Feng, Milton

2017 Distinguished Alumni Award

For seminal contributions to microwave and THz transistors and the realization of the transistor laser

Milton Feng

Milton Feng

MSEE '76, PhD '79

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urbana, Illinois

Milton Feng led the world in transistor research for 4G and 5G wireless and semiconductor laser research for optical interconnect and co-invented the transistor laser, which opens a rich domain of digital photonics for high speed signal processing.

Now the Nick Holonyak, Jr., Endowed Chair Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Feng joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1991. Previously he was Director of GaAs Operation at Ford Microelectronics, Inc., where he was in charge the production of the digital integrated circuit, integrated Hall sensor for collision avoidance, and security chips for satellite space communications. At Torrance Research Center, Hughes Aircraft Company, Feng served as head of the GaAs device for X-band Phased Array Radar.

In 2003, he “pushed” the transistor speed and demonstrated the world’s fastest speed performance (> 800 GHz). A year later, he and Nick Holonyak, Jr., demonstrated the first laser operation of a quantum-well-based light emitting transistor (QWLET), a transistor laser (TL). In 2015, he invented tunneling modulation of transistor laser and discovered electro-optical bistability.

Feng received the IEEE Field Award, the David Sarnoff Award, and the Optical Society R.W. Wood Prize. He has published over 250 papers, given 220 conference talks, been granted 39 U.S. patents, and graduated 41 PhD candidates. In 2006,  his transistor laser research paper was selected as one of the top five papers in the 43 year-history of Applied Physics Letters and as one of the top 100 most important discoveries by Discover magazine in 2005. He received his master’s degree and PhD from ECE ILLINOIS in 1976 and 1979 respectively, and bachelor’s degree at Columbia University in New York.