Former star ECE ILLINOIS students return to honor Holonyak's legacy

10/29/2018 Joseph Park, ECE ILLINOIS

Written by Joseph Park, ECE ILLINOIS

Four former star ECE ILLINOIS students returned to campus on November 26 to honor Holonyak's legacy in light of his 90th birthday. Holonyak, John Bardeen Endowed Chair Emeritus and known as the father of the LED, will be turning 90 on November 3. ECE ILLINOIS Professor Feng, Nick Holonyak, Jr. Endowed Chair Emeritus, who developed the first transistor laser with Holonyak in 2004, "organized the event to celebrate his legacy of innovation" according to the News Gazette.

Holonyak's former students - all of whom lead illustrious careers and are award-winning industry leaders - spoke on different aspects of Holonyak's research and influence. Former student Donald Scrifes co-founded Spectra Diode Laboratories in 1983, based on Holonyak's innovations and called him his "number-one influence." "He's a national treasure... Had I not studied with him, I would not have pursued the career I did and been as succesful as I was." Holonyak jokingly stated that after Scrifes was once featured in Forbes, "people were starting to follow me around on campus because he was my student."

After finishing his studies at Illinois, Holonyak joined as a faculty member in 1963 "at the invitation of his doctoral advisor and hero, John Bardeen, the two-time Nobel physics laureate and inventor of the transistor." For the next four decades, he and his students introduced several major optics-related inventions to the world, most notably the world's first practical light-emiting diode, or LED.

Read more from the News Gazette



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This story was published October 29, 2018.