Professor Emeritus

Nick Holonyak
CAS Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Professor Holonyak has made fundamental contributions to the science and technology of elemental and compound semiconductors, including major achievements in solid-state lasers and incoherent light emitters. He invented the first practical light-emitting diode. He and his students built the first p-n diode quantum well lasers and introduced the name quantum well lasers. He is also known for his work on early diffused silicon devices, tunnel diodes, and silicon-controlled rectifiers, including invention of the symmetrical switch (TRIAC) used in wall light dimmers. He was the first to observe inelastic tunneling, which is the beginning of tunneling spectroscopy. Among the 54 patents he holds on semiconductor materials and devices are the fundamental patents on quantum-well layer disordering and on the aluminum-based III-V oxide, now being exploited in optoelectronics. With Prof. M. Feng he is the inventor of the transistor laser, a unique three-port device with an electrical and optical coherent signal output.

For his contributions he has received the IEEE’s Morris N. Liebmann Award, Jack A. Morton Award, Edison Medal, Third Millennium Medal, and Medal of Honor; National Medal of Science; Japan Prize; John Scott Medal, City of Philadelphia; Solid State Science and Technology Award, Electrochemical Society; GaAs Symposium Award with Welker Medal; Monie A. Ferst Award, Sigma Xi; Charles H. Townes Award and Frederick Ives Medal, Optical Society of America; National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science; American Electronics Association 50th Anniversary Award; American Society for Engineering Education Centennial Medallion; Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Member’s Award, Eta Kappa Nu; John Bardeen Award, Minerals, Metals and Materials Society; Global Energy International Prize, Russia; and U.S. Medal of Technology. In 1997 the Optical Society of America established the Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award. He holds an honorary doctorate of science from Northwestern University and honorary doctor of engineering degree from Notre Dame University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences; honorary member, Ioffe Physical Technical Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia); eminent member, Eta Kappa Nu; foreign member, Russian Academy of Sciences; and fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Nine former graduate students are elected members of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2004 he received the Washington Award, Western Society of Engineers; Lemelson-MIT Prize and Von Hippel Award, Materials Research Society. In 2005 he was named a laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and in 2008 a member of the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame. In April of 2010 he was inducted into The Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame. In November 2011 he was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame (Dayton, OH).  In February of 2013 he became a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and was honored with the LED Pioneer Awards of Strategies Unlimited. In November of 2013 he received the Outstanding Achievement for Global SSL Development (Beijing, China). The Sarnoff Citation from the Radio Club of America (2014). The National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE’s) Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering (2015). University of Illinois Alumni Association (UIAA) Achievement Award (2015). Honorary Member of Optical Society (OSA) (2016). Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering (The Franklin Institute) (1-5 May 2017).


October 24, 2012 is Nick Holonyak Day!  Read more….

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