United States organisations took a clear lead in semiconductor laser research until the mid-1970s. After the 1980s, many important breakthroughs were developed by Japanese organisations. Exploring the journal Applied Physics Letters, this study examines how semiconductor laser technology developed in these two countries and how this change in the country-level industrial leadership in the scientific research occurred. Examining the relationship among industrial organisations, research networks, and scientific breakthroughs, it discusses how these coevolved and how breakthroughs were channelled in different directions. R&D targets were channelled into small markets in the US, but were concentrated into the same markets in Japan.
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