American Engineer, Nick Holonyak, Who made LED, dies at 93

American Engineer, Nick Holonyak, Who made LED, dies at 93

Nick Holonyak was an American engineer and educator. He is noted particularly for his 1962 invention of a Light Emitting Diode (LED) that emitted visible red light instead of infrared light while working at General Electric’s research laboratory in Syracuse, New York.

After leaving General Electric in 1963, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where he later became John Bardeen Endowed Chair Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics.

Nick Holonyak JR. who made LED, dies at 93

Nick Holonyak Jr, whose development in 1962 of the practical visible-spectrum light emitting diode or LED, proved a breakthrough that now has countless practical applications, including light bulbs, mobile phones, and microscopic surgical equipment that can save lives, died on September 18 in Urbana, III.

He was 93 at the time. Nick Holonyak is a national treasure.

Nick Holonyak’s Early Life

Holonyak Jr. was born on November 3, 1928, in Zeigher, Illinois. His parents were Rusyn Immigrants. His father worked in a coal mine. Holonyak was the first member of his family to receive any type of formal schooling.

nick holonyak age

He once worked 30 straight hours on the Illinois Central Railroad before realizing that a life of hard labor was not what he wanted and he would prefer to go to school instead.

Nick Holonyak’s Career

Holonyak earned his bachelor’s in 1950 and degree in 1951. He earned his doctoral degree in 1954 in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Holonyak was John Bardeen’s first graduate student there. In 1954, Holonyak went to Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he worked on silicon-based electronic devices.

From 1955-1957 he served in the US Army Signal Corps. From 1957-1963, he was a scientist at the General Electric Company’s Advanced Semiconductor Laboratory in Syracuse, New York, where he demonstrated the LED on October 9, 1962.

Nick Holonyak’s Inventions

In addition to introducing the III-V alloy LED, Holonyak hld 41 patents. His other inventions include the red-light semiconductor laser, usually called a laser Diode which is used in CD and DVD players and also in cell phones. He also invented the shorted emitter p-n-p switch which is used in light dimmers and power tools.

Holonyak predicted that his LED would replace Thomas Edison in the February 1963 Issue of Reader’s Digest, and as LEDs improve in quality and efficiency they are gradually replacing incandescents as the bulb of choice.

Nick Holonyak’s Awards and Honors

President George H.W. Bush awarded Dr. Holonyak the National Medal of Science in 1990 for “ his contribution as one of the Nation’s most prolific inventors in the area of semiconductor materials and devices.

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Later the president bestowed on him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2002 and Queen Elizabeth of England presented him with the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering in 2021.