The Japanese inventors of the blue-light LED have been named as the 2014 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura will be awarded the prize for “an invention of greatest benefit to mankind” in Stockholm, Sweden in early December for creating a blue-light LED that opened the door for energy-efficient, long-lasting, bright white LED lamps.

While red and green LEDs have been around for almost 50 years, blue LEDS were needed to create white light in tandem with the red and green LEDs. Despite significant scientific and industry efforts, blue LEDS remained a challenge for another 30 years.

“Akasaki worked with Amano at Nagoya University while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company located in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. When they obtained bright blue light beams from their semiconductors, the gates opened up for a fundamental transformation of illumination technology,” a Nobel Prize statement said.

“Incandescent light bulbs had lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

One quarter of the world’s energy is used on lighting, so the invention plays a large part in conserving earth’s finite resources. It also holds promise for reducing energy poverty.

“The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power,” the release stated.

“The invention of the blue LED is just 20 years old, but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.”