MRS Bulletin

Use & Efficiency


Solid-State Lighting

Colin J. Humphreysa1

a1 Cambridge University, UK


Electricity generation is the main source of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and lighting uses one-fifth of its output. Solid-state lighting using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is poised to reduce this value by at least 50%, so that lighting will then use less than one-tenth of all electricity generated. LED lighting will provide reductions of at least 10% in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from power stations within the next 5–10 years. Even greater reductions are likely on a 10–20-year timescale.

Colin J. Humphreys, organizing committee member for this issue of MRS Bulletin, can be reached at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge, Pembroke Street, Cambridge, CB2 3QZ, UK; tel. +44–1223–334457, fax +44–1223–334437, and e-mail

Humphreys is the Goldsmiths' Professor of Materials Science at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a degree in physics from Imperial College, London, and earned his PhD degree from the Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge. Before joining Cambridge in 1990, Humphreys was a lecturer in the Materials Department at the University of Oxford, and then head of materials engineering at the University of Liverpool. In addition to his position at Cambridge, Humphreys is a professor of experimental physics at the Royal Institution in London and a fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He also is director of the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre at Cambridge, on Ni-based superalloys for turbine blades for aerospace engines, and director of the Cambridge Gallium Nitride Centre. Humphreys' research interests include all aspects of electron microscopy and analysis, semiconductors (particularly gallium nitride), ultra-high-temperature aerospace materials, and superconductors. Humphreys' hobby is reconstructing what happened in ancient historical events using modern-day science. He was president of the Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining in 2002 and 2003. He then served as the chair of its managing board. Humphreys is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; a member of the Academia Europaea; a liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company; a member of the Court of the Armourers and Brasiers' Company; a Freeman of the City of London; a member of the John Templeton Foundation in the USA; and the honorary president of the Canadian College for Chinese Studies in Victoria, Canada. In addition, Humphreys was president of the physics section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science from 1998 to 1999, and a fellow with the Public Understanding of Physics, Institute of Physics, from 1997 to 1999. He has received medals from the Institute of Materials, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of Arts; and given various memorial lectures throughout the world. In 2001, Humphreys received an honorary DSc degree from the University of Leicester. Other awards include the European Materials Gold Medal, the Robert Franklin Mehl Gold Medal from The Materials, Minerals, and Metals Society in 2003, and the CBE in the New Year's Honours for 2003. In addition, Humphreys is the author of The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist Reveals the Extraordinary Natural Causes Underlying the Biblical Miracles.