University of Illinois professor Nick Holonyak Jr., who invented the light-emitting diode (LED), will join Thomas Edison, Enrico Fermi and the Wright Brothers in the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame.
LEDs, which are semiconductor crystal devices that emit light when electrified, have revolutionized modern lighting, including everything from instrument panels and electronic devices to tail lights and energy-efficient light bulbs. His innovation can also function as a laser and has been used ubiquitously in CD and DVD players and fiber-optic communication.
Holonyak, who is the John Bardeen professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at the University of Illinois, is a pioneer in the field of optoelectronics, which concerns devices that convert electricity to light. Not only did Holonyak develop the first practical LED, he has also worked extensively with semiconductors.
Holonyak’s research has resulted in more than 500 academic papers, 51 patents and numerous awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Technology (2002), the National Academy of Sciences' Award for the Industrial Application of Science (1993) and the U.S. National Medal of Science (1990). In addition to membership in several major U.S. scientific organizations, Holonyak also holds the distinction of being a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The 2011 class of inductees into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame, which includes Holonyak, Nikola Tesla (alternating current devices that led to commercial electricity) and James Tsui (digital receiver and GPS technology), will join more than 50 current members in the Hall on Nov. 3.
“LED Inventor Holonyak Joining Hall of Fame,” The News-Gazette, Oct. 15, 2011.