Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Nick Holonyak

Nick Holonyak

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Nick Holonyak'
Start a new discussion about 'Nick Holonyak'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first practically useful visible LED
Light-emitting diode
A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices and are increasingly used for other lighting...

 in 1962 while working as a consulting scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

 at a General Electric Company laboratory in Syracuse, New York
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

 and has been called "the father of the light-emitting diode". He is a John Bardeen Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics and Professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he has been since 1963.

Inventions


In addition to introducing the III-V alloy LED, Holonyak holds 41 patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

s. His other inventions include the red-light semiconductor
Semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

 laser, usually called the laser diode
Laser diode
The laser diode is a laser where the active medium is a semiconductor similar to that found in a light-emitting diode. The most common type of laser diode is formed from a p-n junction and powered by injected electric current...

 (used in CD and DVD player
DVD player
A DVD player is a device that plays discs produced under both the DVD-Video and DVD-Audio technical standards, two different and incompatible standards. These devices were invented in 1997 and continue to thrive...

s 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
Dimmer
Dimmers are devices used to vary the brightness of a light. By decreasing or increasing the RMS voltage and, hence, the mean power to the lamp, it is possible to vary the intensity of the light output...

 while at GE.

In 2006, the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

 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
Milton Feng
Milton Feng co-created the first transistor laser, working with Nick Holonyak in 2004. The paper discussing their work was voted in 2006 as one of the five most important papers published by the American Institute of Physics since its founding 75 years ago...

 in 2005, announced the creation of a transistor laser that can operate at room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

s. Holonyak predicted that his LEDs would replace the incandescent light bulb
Incandescent light bulb
The incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe makes light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until it glows. The hot filament is protected from air by a glass bulb that is filled with inert gas or evacuated. In a halogen lamp, a chemical process...

 of Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

 in the February 1963 issue of Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest
Reader's Digest is a general interest family magazine, published ten times annually. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, its headquarters is now in New York City. It was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace...

, and as LEDs improve in quality and efficiency they are gradually replacing incandescents as the bulb of choice.

Background


Holonyak's parents were Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants who settled in Southern Illinois; Holonyak's father worked in a coal mine. Holonyak was the first member of his family to receive any type of formal schooling. He once worked 30 straight hours on the Illinois Central Railroad
Illinois Central Railroad
The Illinois Central Railroad , sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, is a railroad in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois with New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama. A line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa...

 before realizing that a life of hard labor was not what he wanted and he'd prefer to go to school instead. According to Knight Ridder
Knight Ridder
Knight Ridder was an American media company, specializing in newspaper and Internet publishing. Until it was bought by The McClatchy Company on June 27, 2006, it was the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, with 32 daily newspapers sold.- History :The corporate ancestors of...

, "The cheap and reliable semiconductor lasers critical to DVD players, bar code readers and scores of other devices owe their existence in some small way to the demanding workload thrust upon Downstate railroad crews decades ago."

Holonyak was John Bardeen's
John Bardeen
John Bardeen was an American physicist and electrical engineer, the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon Neil Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a...

 first Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

. He received his undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. (1954) from the same university. He created the first visible semiconductor lasers in 1960. In 1963, he again joined Dr. Bardeen, the co-inventor of the transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

, at the University of Illinois and worked on quantum well
Quantum well
A quantum well is a potential well with only discrete energy values.One technology to create quantization is to confine particles, which were originally free to move in three dimensions, to two dimensions, forcing them to occupy a planar region...

s and quantum-well laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

s.

University of Illinois


As of 2007, he is the John Bardeen
John Bardeen
John Bardeen was an American physicist and electrical engineer, the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon Neil Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a...

 Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is investigating methods for manufacturing quantum dot laser
Quantum dot laser
A quantum dot laser is a semiconductor laser that uses quantum dots as the active laser medium in its light emitting region. Due to the tight confinement of charge carriers in quantum dots, they exhibit an electronic structure similar to atoms...

s. He has been married to his wife Katherine for 51 years. He no longer teaches classes, but he researches full-time. He and Dr. Milton Feng
Milton Feng
Milton Feng co-created the first transistor laser, working with Nick Holonyak in 2004. The paper discussing their work was voted in 2006 as one of the five most important papers published by the American Institute of Physics since its founding 75 years ago...

 run a transistor laser research center at the University funded by $6.5 million from the United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 through DARPA.

10 of his 60 former doctoral students develop new uses for LED technology at Philips Lumileds Lighting Company
Philips Lumileds Lighting Company
Philips Lumileds Lighting Company is the manufacturer of a wide range of high-power/high-efficiency light-emitting diodes . It is a now a fully owned division of Philips Lighting.-History:...

 in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

.

Awards and honors


Holonyak has been presented awards by George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, Emperor Akihito
Akihito
is the current , the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession. He acceded to the throne in 1989.-Name:In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to . In...

 of Japan and Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

.

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
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States...

, won this same award in 2007.

In 1995, he was awarded the $500,000 Japan Prize
Japan Prize
is awarded to people from all parts of the world whose "original and outstanding achievements in science and technology are recognized as having advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind."- Explanation :...

 for 'Outstanding contributions to research and practical applications of light emitting diodes and lasers.'

In 2003, he was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor
IEEE Medal of Honor
The IEEE Medal of Honor is the highest recognition of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers . It has been awarded since 1917, when its first recipient was Major Edwin H. Armstrong. It is given for an exceptional contribution or an extraordinary career in the IEEE fields of...

.

He has also received the Global Energy International Prize
Global Energy Prize
The Global Energy Prize is an independent award for outstanding scientific research and technological development in energy, which contribute to efficiency and environmentally friendly energy sources for the benefit of humanity....

, the National Medal of Technology
National Medal of Technology
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is an honor granted by the President of the United States to American inventors and innovators who have made significant contributions to the development of new and important technology...

, the Order of Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 Medallion, and the 2004 Lemelson-MIT Prize
Lemelson-MIT Prize
The Lemelson Foundation awards several prizes yearly to inventors in United States. The largest is the Lemelson-MIT Prize which was endowed in 1994 by Jerome H. Lemelson, and is administered through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

, also worth $500,000. He has also received the Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America
Optical Society of America
The Optical Society is a scientific society dedicated to advancing the study of light—optics and photonics—in theory and application, by means of publishing, organizing conferences and exhibitions, partnership with industry, and education. The organization has members in more than 100 countries...

.

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
Historical marker
A historical marker or historic marker is an indicator such as a plaque or sign to commemorate an event or person of historic interest and to associate that point of interest with a specific locale one can visit.-Description:...

 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).

External links