Nick Holonyak life and biography

Nick Holonyak picture, image, poster

Nick Holonyak biography

Date of birth : 1928-11-03
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Zeigler, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2011-10-04
Credited as : electrical engineer, invented the LED, Global Energy International Prize

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Physicist Nick Holonyak invented the first practical light-emitting diode (LED) in 1962. He also invented the quantum-well laser that became the basis for compact disc players and fiber-optic communications, and designed the earliest versions of the technology underlying household light-dimmer switches. Holonyak studied under Nobel laureate John Bardeen, and also made significant advances in impurity-induced layer disordering, semiconductor materials and devices, silicon-diffused transistor technology, and laser technology. His father was a coal miner and immigrant from Eastern Europe, and Holonyak is the first member of his family to receive a formal education.

In addition to introducing the III-V alloy LED, Holonyak holds 41 patents. His other inventions include the red-light semiconductor laser, usually called the laser diode (used in CD and DVD players and cell phones) and the shorted emitter p-n-p-n switch (used in light dimmers and power tools). He helped create the first light dimmer while at GE.

In 2006, the American Institute of Physics decided on the five most important papers in each of its journals since it was founded 75 years ago. Two of these five papers, in the journal Applied Physics Letters, were co-authored by Holonyak. The first one, coauthored with S. F. Bevacqua in 1962, announced the creation of the first visible-light LED. The second, co-authored primarily with Milton Feng in 2005, announced the creation of a transistor laser that can operate at room temperatures. Holonyak predicted that his LEDs would replace the incandescent light bulb of Thomas Edison in the February 1963 issue of Reader's Digest, and as LEDs improve in quality and efficiency they are gradually replacing incandescents as the bulb of choice.

Awards and honors:

Holonyak has been presented awards by George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Emperor Akihito of Japan and Vladimir Putin.

In 1989, Holonyak received the IEEE Edison Medal for 'an outstanding career in the field of electrical engineering with contributions to major advances in the field of semiconductor materials and devices.' Holonyak's former student, Russell Dupuis from the Georgia Institute of Technology, won this same award in 2007.

In 1995, he was awarded the $500,000 Japan Prize for 'Outstanding contributions to research and practical applications of light emitting diodes and lasers.'

In 2003, he was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor.

He has also received the Global Energy International Prize, the National Medal of Technology, the Order of Lincoln Medallion, and the 2004 Lemelson-MIT Prize, also worth $500,000. He has also received the Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America.

Many colleagues have expressed their belief that he deserves the Nobel Prize for his invention of the LED. On this subject, Holonyak says, "It's ridiculous to think that somebody owes you something. We're lucky to be alive, when it comes down to it."

On 9 November 2007, Holonyak was honored on the University of Illinois campus with a historical marker recognizing his development of the quantum-well laser. It is located on the Bardeen Engineering Quadrangle near where the old Electrical Engineering Research Laboratory used to stand.

In 2008, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (Announced February 14, 2008) (May 2-3, 2008 at Akron, Ohio).

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