Monday, April 4, 2011

Salute to Father of LED


Nick Holonyak
Zeigler, Illinois; 1928

NICK HOLONYAK, JR. was born in Zeigler, Illinois on November 3, 1928. he attended the University of Illinois and received a B.S. (1950), M.S. (1951), and Ph.D. (1954) in Electrical Engineering. A Texas Instruments Fellow, he was John Bardeen’s first student. He later was employed as a member of technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories (1954-55) and helped demonstrate feasibility of diffused-impurity silicon devices, including transistors, oxide-masked transistors, p-n-p-n switches and SCR’S. He served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps (1955-57) at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, and at Isogo-ku, Yokohama, Japan. In 1957 he joined the Advanced Semiconductor Laboratory of the General Electric Company (Syracuse) and made contributions in the areas of power and signal p-n-p-n devices (including invention of the shorted-emitter and symmetrical SCR and thyristor switches—TRIAC’s, etc.), tunnel diodes, phonon-assisted tunneling (the initial observation of inelastic tunneling and the beginning of tunneling spectroscopy), halide transport and first epitaxial growth of III-V compounds and compound mixtures (including heterojunctions, 1960-63), double injection and deep-impurity-level effects, junction luminescence (GaAsP LED’s), and III-V alloy semiconductor lasers (visible spectrum, GaAsP, 1962). His work from 1960 to 1962 on GaAsP and the initial construction in 1960 of a p-n junction in the crystal system, and a visible-spectrum (red) laser in 1962, led to the commercial introduction of red GaAsP LED’s (and eventually to the concept of an “ultimate lamp”). He is the inventor of the first practical light emitting diode (the GaAsP LED), which also marks the beginning in the use of III-V alloys in semiconductor devices (including heterojunctions.)

Since 1963 he has been a professor at the University of Illinois in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a member of the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study. He and his students have worked primarily on III-V semiconductors, III-V alloy crystal growth and the demonstration of red-orange-yellow-green stimulated emission in In1-xGaxP, In1-xGaxP1-zAsz and A1xGa1-xAs1-yPy, stimulated emission on nitrogen trap transitions in the alloys GaAs1-xPx and In1-xGaxP, and heterojunctions in various ternary III-V’s and in the quaternaries A1xGa1-xAs1-yPy and In1-xGaxP1-zAsz. He and his students were the first to make quaternary III-V semiconductor devices (LEDs and lasers.) Since 1976 he has been concerned with quantum-well (QW) light emitters and lasers, and with impurity-induced layer disordering, which shifts lower gap quantum well layers to higher gap bulk crystal and serves as a basis for integrated optoelectronic devices. In 1990 he and his students introduced (~400˚C) stable native oxides on, and buried in, Al-bearing III-V compounds and demonstrated their use in optoelectronic devices (LEDs and lasers). He and his students were the first (1977) to construct p-n diode quantum well lasers (InP-InGaAsp, LPE) and were the first to achieve (1978) continuous (cw) room temperature (300 K) laser operation of quantum well heterostructures and superlattices, and later (1982) strained layer quantum well heterostructures. They are the source of the name “quantum well laser.” Most recently (with Dupuis, 2001) he introduced tunneling-coupled quantum-well-assisted quantum-dot lasers, and (with Feng, 2004) the light-emitting three-port operation of heterojunction bipolar transistors, including QW-based HBTs and, after 57 years, a transistor laser.

He is co-author of the book SEMICONDUCTOR CONTROLLED RECTIFIERS (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964) and PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF SEMICONDUCTORS (Prentice-Hall, 1989), editor of the Prentice-Hall series “Solid State Physical Electronics,” and has served on the Editorial Board of the PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE (1966-1974), SOLID-STATE ELECTRONICS (1970-1991), and JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS and APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS (1978-1980). He received a General Electric Cordiner Award (1962), and for his contributions to the field of visible-spectrum light emitting diodes and diode lasers, he is the recipient of the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Award (1973), the John Scott Medal (1975, City of Philadelphia), the first GaAs Symposium Award with Welker Medal (1976), the IEEE Jack A. Morton Award (1981), the Electrochemical Society Solid State Science and Technology Award (1983), the Sigma Xi Monie A. Ferst Award (1988), the IEEE Edison Medal (1989), the Charles Hard Townes Award of the Optical Society of America (1992), the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science (1993), American Electronics Association 50th Anniversary Award (1993, “Inventing America’s Future”), American Society for Engineering Education Centennial Medallion (1993), Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Members’ Award of Eta Kappa Nu (1994), TMS John Bardeen Award (1995, The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society), 2000 IEEE Third Millennium Medal, Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America (2001), the IEEE Medal of Honor (2003), the Washington Award (Western Society Engineers, 2004), the Lemelson-MIT Prize (2004), and the MRS Von Hippel Award (2004). In 1990 he received the U.S. National Medal of Science and in 2003 the 2002 U.S. National Medal of Technology. In 1992 he received from Northwestern University an honorary doctor of science degree and was elected an honorary member of the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia). In 1994 he received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from Notre Dame University, in 1995 the Japan Prize, and in 2003 the Global Energy International Prize (Russia). In 1993 he was appointed (University of Illinois) the John Bardeen Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Physics, a chair sponsored by the Sony Corporation. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (1973), a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1984), foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1999), eminent member of Eta Kappa Nu (1998), fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984), fellow of the IEEE (life fellow, 1994), fellow of the American Physical Society, fellow of the Optical Society of America, fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2003), and laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois (2005). In 2008 he was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame.


Semiconductors, quantum well and dot lasers, LEDs, transistor lasers, optoelectronics

Professor Holonyak has made fundamental contributions to the science and technology of elemental and compound semiconductors, including major achievements in solid-state lasers and incoherent light emitters. He invented the first practical light-emitting diode and is the first to make III-V alloy devices (III-V alloys now part of all high performance lasers and LEDs, U.S. Patent #3,249,473). He and his students built the first p-n diode quantum well lasers and introduced the name quantum well lasers (also vital now in all lasers and LEDs). He is known also for his work on early diffused silicon devices, tunnel diodes, and silicon-controlled rectifiers, including invention of the symmetrical switch. (TRIAC) used in wall light dimmers. He was the first to observe inelastic tunneling, which is the beginning of tunneling spectroscopy. Among the 39 patents he holds on semiconductor materials and devices are the fundamental patents on quantum-well layer disordering and on the aluminum-based III-V oxide, now being exploited in optoelectronics (and a licensed U of I technology).

For his contributions to the field of semiconductor materials and devices, visible light-emitting diodes, diode lasers, and quantum-well heterostructure lasers, he received the IEEE’s Morris N. Liebmann Award, Jack A. Morton Award, Edison Medal, and Third Millennium Medal; John Scott Medal of the City of Philadelphia; Solid State Science and Technology Award of the Electrochemical Society; GaAs Symposium Award with Welker Medal; Monie A. Ferst Award of Sigma Xi; Charles H. Townes Award and Frederick Ives Medal (2001) of the Optical Society of America; National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science; American Electronics Association 50th Anniversary Award; American Society for Engineering Education Centennial Medallion; Vladimir Karapetoff Eminent Member’s Award of Eta Kappa Nu; and John Bardeen Award of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.

He received the 1990 National Medal of Science, an honorary doctorate of science from Northwester University (1992), and an honorary doctor of engineering degree from Notre Dame University (1994). He is an honorary member of the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia). In 1995 he received the Japan Prize. In 1997 the Optical Society of America established the Nick Holonyak, Jr. Award; in 1998 he was elected an Eminent member of Eta Kappa Nu; and in 1999 he was elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Eight former graduate students are elected members of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2003 he received the Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE); Global Energy International Prize, Russia; U.S. Medal of Technology; and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2004 he received the Washington Award, of the Western Society of Engineers, the Lemelson-MIT Prize of invention, the MRS Von Hipple Award; and in 2005 was named a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. In 2006 he became a Member of the Consumer Electronics Assn Hall of Fame, and in 2008 was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame.

His research now is concerned with coupled quantum-dot/quantum-well lasers, light-emitting transistors (LETs), and transistor lasers (LTs), which has resulted in fundamental changes in transistors and in lasers.

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