The 2021 QEPrize is awarded for the creation and development of LED lighting, which forms the basis of all solid-state lighting technology. Russell Dupuis, of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was recognized with his colleagues Nick Holonyak Jr., Isamu Akasaki, M. George Craford, and Shuji Nakamura, for not only for the global impact of LED and solid-state lighting, but also for the tremendous contribution the LED technology has made, and will continue to make, to reducing energy consumption and addressing climate change.

First awarded in 2013 in the name of Her Majesty The Queen, the QEPrize exists to celebrate ground-breaking innovation in engineering. The 2021 winners were announced on February 2 by Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation. HRH The Princess Royal shared a message of congratulation for the winners.

Solid-state lighting technology has changed how we illuminate our world. It can be found everywhere from sports stadiums, parking garages, inside and outside commercial buildings, homes, digital displays and computer screens and cell phones to hand-held laser pointers, automobile headlights and traffic lights. Today’s high-performance LEDs are used in efficient solid-state lighting products across the world and are contributing to the sustainable development of world economies by reducing energy consumption.  

Visible LEDs are now a global industry predicted to be worth over $108 billion by 2025 through low-cost, high-efficiency lighting. They are playing a crucial role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, consuming significantly less energy and producing 90% less heat than incandescent lighting, and their large-scale use reduces the energy demand required to cool buildings. For this, they are often referred to as the ‘green revolution’ within lighting.

“Engineering is imperative to solving human problems. All over the world, everyone knows the QEPrize. Most importantly, this is a team prize. I was able to do what I did in the 1980s, because of what had come before. When I was modifying reactors every morning and every afternoon continuously for a year and a half, I never thought it would be so successful." Shuji Nakamura

“This is a really special moment for me. The QEPrize is so prestigious and it is spectacular to receive recognition from The Royal Family. It is a career highlight that is impossible to beat. Engineering is incredible, and I am proud to part of something that has made such a big impact on the world.” George Craford

“It is really something to share in this award with my friends and colleagues – all five of us each played an important role, and this recognition means a lot to me personally. In those early days, when we were working long days and nights hand-building reactors, Nick Holonyak mentored us. He really drew us in and inspired us to be part of the adventure that is engineering.” Russell Dupuis

“This year’s Prize winners have not only helped humanity to achieve a greater degree of mastery over the environment, they have enabled us to do so in a sustainable way. They have created a product which we now take for granted, but which will play a major role in ensuring that humanity can live in harmony with nature for many more centuries to come.” Lord Browne of Madingley, Chair, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

“The impact of this innovation is not to be understated. It makes lighting a lot cheaper and more accessible for emerging economies. For example, LEDs are being used on fishing boats where previously the only option would have been paraffin lamps. They are much cheaper and safer. It is not only an extreme engineering achievement, but a societal impact that has a significant impact on the environment.” Sir Christopher Snowden, Chair of the QEPrize Judging Panel

Dupuis holds the Steve W. Chaddick Endowed Chair in Electro-Optics and is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Nakamura is the Cree Chair in Solid-State Lighting and Displays in the Materials Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Craford is a Solid-State Lighting Fellow at Philips Lumileds Lighting Company; Akasaki is a University Professor at Nagoya University and Meijo University (Japan); and Holonyak is the John Bardeen Endowed Chair Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The winners will be formally honoured at a ceremony later this year; they will receive the £1 million prize and an iconic trophy, designed by the 2021 Create the Trophy winner Hannah Goldsmith, a 20-year-old design student from the United Kingdom.

 

About the 2021 QEPrize

QEPrize celebrates engineering’s visionaries, encouraging engineers to help extend the boundaries of what is possible across all disciplines and applications. It also inspires young minds to consider engineering as a career choice and to help to solve the challenges of the future.

The QEPrize is administered by the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation and funded by generous support from the following corporate donors: BAE Systems plc, BP plc, GlaxoSmithKline, Hitachi, Ltd., Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid plc, Nissan Motor Corporation, Shell UK Ltd., Siemens UK, Sony, Tata Steel Europe, Tata Consultancy Services, and Toshiba.

The 2021 winners are awarded a total cash prize of £1 million.