John Bardeen Endowed Chair Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, sponsored by the Sony Corporation

John Bardeen Endowed Chair Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, sponsored by the Sony Corporation

The Sony Corporation established the John Bardeen Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics in 1989 to honor the legacy of Professor Bardeen.

John Bardeen was an established force in physics when he joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1951. While working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, he became interested in semiconductors and with W. H. Brattain discovered the transistor effect in late 1947. At Illinois, Bardeen established two major research programs, one in the Physics Department focusing on theoretical aspects of macroscopic quantum systems, particularly superconductivity and quantum liquids, and one in the Electrical Engineering Department dealing with both experimental and theoretical aspects of semiconductors.

The microscopic theory of superconductivity, developed in collaboration with L. N. Cooper and J. R. Schrieffer in 1956 and 1957, has had profound implications for nearly every field of physics, from elementary particle to nuclear and the helium liquids to neutron stars. During his 60-year scientific career, Bardeen made significant contributions to almost every aspect of condensed matter physics, from his early work on the electronic behavior of metals, the surface properties of semiconductors, and the theory of diffusion of atoms in crystals to his later work on quasi-one-dimensional metals. In his 83rd year, he continued to publish original scientific papers.

The only person to win two Nobel Prizes in Physics (1956 and 1972), Bardeen was a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He served on the U.S. President’s Science Advisory Committee from 1959 to 1962 and on the White House Science Council in 1981. He was a recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science (1965) and the Lomonosov Award (Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1987). Bardeen was named by Life Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Adapted from the website of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois.


Nick Holonyak, Jr
Nick Holonyak, Jr

Nick Holonyak, Jr. was born Nov. 3, 1928, in Zeigler, Illinois. The son of an immigrant coal miner, he was first in his family to pursue higher education. He received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Illinois, where he was the first graduate student of two-time Nobel laureate John Bardeen. He worked for Bell Labs, the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and General Electric Co. before joining the faculty at the U. of I. in 1963.

Working at General Electric on Oct. 9, 1962, Holonyak demonstrated the first visible-light-emitting diode. While infrared LEDs previously had been made of the material gallium arsenide, Holonyak created crystals of gallium arsenide phosphide – the first time the three elements had crystalized together – to make an LED that would emit a visible red light.

At Illinois, Holonyak continued to innovate. In 1977, he and his students demonstrated the first quantum-well laser, now used in fiber optics, CD and DVD players, and medical diagnostic devices. In 2004, he developed the transistor laser – a transistor with both light and electric outputs that could enable next-generation high-speed communications technologies – with fellow Illinois professor Milton Feng.

Holonyak has received numerous awards for his innovations, including the National Academy of Engineering’s Draper Prize (2015), the Lemelson-MIT Prize (2004), the Global Energy Prize from Russia (2003), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Medal of Honor (2003), the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2002), the Japan Prize (1995) and the U.S. National Medal of Science (1990).