Nick Holonyak Jr., the inventor of the LED will join the scientists and inventors inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame on Nov. 3. Holonyak has worked on the first practical light-emitting diode, and beside he works extensively with semiconductors.
He will be inducted at a ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, along with Nikola Tesla (alternating-current inventions led to commercial electricity; he died in 1943) and James Tsui (developer of digital receiver and GPS technology; he received his Ph.D. from the UI).
Holonyak, the John Bardeen professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at the UI, is a pioneer in the field of optoelectronics devices that convert electricity into light or vice-versa. His work has resulted in more than 500 academic papers and 51 patents.
LEDs, semiconductor crystal devices that emit light when electrified, now are commonly used on items ranging from instrument panels to bicycle tail lights. In a different form, LEDs can function as lasers. His innovation also has contributed to technology in household dimmer switches, lasers that run CD and DVD players and fiber-optic communication.
Most recently, Holonyak has worked with UI electrical and computer engineering Professor Milton Feng to demonstrate the operation of a transistor laser that combines the functionality of both a transistor and a laser by converting electrical input signals into two output signals, one electrical and one optical. Transistor lasers could dramatically improve the speed and availability of electronic communications and computers.
Among his numerous awards are the Lemelson-MIT Prize (2004), the Global Energy Prize from Russia (2003), the U.S. National Medal of Technology (2002), the Japan Prize (1995), the National Academy of Sciences' Award for the Industrial Application of Science (1993), and the U.S. National Medal of Science (1990).