Mictian writes "University of California professor Shuji Nakamura, the japanese inventor of the bright green, white and blue GaN LEDs and a blue laser, has been awarded the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize. While blue LEDs are considered cool and thus needful things by most nerds, Nakamura adapted his blue LEDs to make a blue laser in the mid 90s. The next generation optical storage formats, HD-DVD and BluRay, are of course both based on blue laser. Also, his white LEDS need far less energy than normal incandescent lamps and can thus provide plenty of opportunity for energy-saving in the industrialized world. But probably the most significant future application for Shuji Nakamura's invention comes in the form of sterilizing drinking water, since the the water purification process can be made cheaper and more efficient with the use of ultraviolet LEDs. This can improve the lives and health of tens of millions people in developing countries."