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
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 mobile phones) and the shorted emitter p-n-p-n switch used in light dimmers.
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 and as LEDs improve in quality and efficiency they are gradually replacing incandescents as everyones bulb of choice.
Awards and honors
- 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.’
- 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.
- In 2008, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame