News-Spot | Nov 24, 2011

The Inventor of the White LED Celebrates his 80th Birthday

His invention illuminates the world: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schneider, former head of department at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and inventor of the white LED, celebrates his 80th birthday at 25.11.2011.

Born in Berlin, Schneider began his studies of physics 1951 in Freiburg and received his habilitation in 1967 after two research periods in the USA. Although being offered chairs at several universities, Schneider stayed true to Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (Fraunhofer IAF). At Fraunhofer IAF, he was head of the department Material Sciences until his retirement in 1996. Prof. Dr. Schneider strongly supported the invention of the white light emitting diode (white LED) in 1995, which is composed of a single semiconductor chip.

The white LED as a small, long lasting and energy efficient light source established future markets. In addition to simple applications such as flashlights or desk lamps, the automotive industry also uses the benefits of LED technology in lighting systems. The market volume for LED lighting is estimated to be 8.3 billion US Dollars in 2014 (Strategies Unlimited).

“Inventions sometimes face difficulties” is pointed out by Prof. Dr. Schneider. “One of our first luminescence conversion LEDs was misjudged as ‘strange paperclip’ and disposed. Only at the second attempt were we able to convince customers with our technology.”

Prof. Dr. Schneider is delighted these days, because Freiburg as his city of choice will be awarded in context of the nation-wide competition “Communities in new light”. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) provided 2 million Euros in order to develop and test innovative LED lighting concepts. During Christmas time, the new LED components will light up Freiburg Minster.


The technology of white LEDs can still be improved: Fraunhofer IAF continues its research in order to improve light intensity, color quality and efficiency further. Fraunhofer IAF congratulates Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schneider sincerely and wishes him all the best.

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