The Kyoto Prizes, Japan's highest private awards for lifetime achievement, are presented annually by the nonprofit Inamori Foundation to recognize significant contributions to the betterment of humanity by individuals and groups worldwide. The laureates are selected through a strict and impartial process from candidates recommended from around the world. At the ceremony, each laureate will receive a diploma, a Kyoto Prize Medal of 20-karat gold, and a cash gift of up to 50 million yen (approximately $410,000) per prize category.
The optoelectronics researchers receiving 2001 Kyoto Prize Laureates are Morton Panish (US), Izuo Hayashi (Japan), and Zhores Ivanovich Alferov (Russia) for the field of Advanced Technology. Panish, Hayashi, and Alferov have made pioneering contributions to optoelectronics technology by achieving the continuous-wave operation of semiconductor lasers at room temperature. According to the awards committee, their work helped paved the way for a new era of information technology, laying the necessary foundation for today's fiberoptic communications networks, CD players and laser printers. Hayashi and Panish were associated with Bell Labs (Murray Hill, NJ) during their careers.