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to receive global energy prize
James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
Holonyak Jr., a John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer
Engineering and Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
has been selected as a 2003 recipient of the Global Energy
Prize from Russia.
Ill. — Nick Holonyak Jr., a John Bardeen Professor of Electrical
and Computer Engineering and Physics at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign, has been selected as a 2003 recipient of the Global
Energy Prize from Russia. He shares the $900,000 prize with Gennady
Mesiats of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Yan Douglas Smith of
Titan Pulse Sciences Division.
The award recognizes Holonyak for his "contribution to the development
of power silicon electronics and invention of the first semiconducting
light-emitting diodes in a visible part of the spectrum." This
work helped to create efficient, energy-saving technologies.
The son of Slavic immigrants who settled in Southern Illinois, Holonyak
earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950, his master’s in 1951,
and his doctorate in 1954, all in electrical engineering from Illinois.
Holonyak was the first graduate student of two-time Nobel laureate John
Bardeen, an Illinois professor who invented the transistor. An early
researcher in semiconductor electronics, Holonyak gained eminence through
his numerous inventions and contributions to advances in semiconductor
materials and devices.
Before joining the Illinois faculty in 1963, Holonyak worked for Bell
Telephone Labs, where he helped develop silicon-diffused transistor
technology. Several years later, while at General Electric, he invented
the first practical light-emitting diode and the first semiconductor
laser to operate in the visible spectrum. He also developed the first
electronic devices in III-V compound semiconductor alloys (III and V
referring to places in the periodic table of the elements), and is the
inventor of the basic silicon device used in household light-dimmer
At Illinois, Holonyak and his students demonstrated the first quantum-well
laser, creating a practical laser for fiber-optic communications, compact
disc players, medical diagnosis, surgery, ophthalmology and many other
In the early 1980s, his group introduced impurity-induced layer disordering,
which converts layers of a semiconductor structure into an alloy that
has important electronic properties. In one use, this discovery solved
the problem of a laser’s low reliability. Such lasers exhibit
enhanced performance and durability, making them ideal for DVD players
and other optical storage equipment.
During the last decade, Holonyak and his students invented a process
that enables the formation of high-quality oxide layers on any aluminum-bearing
III-V compound semiconductor. The oxide process has had a major impact
on vertical-cavity surface emitting lasers, making them practical for
such applications as optical and data communications. His more recent
research focuses on coupling quantum-dot lasers to quantum-well lasers.
Among Holonyak’s many awards are the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers Medal of Honor (2003), the Frederic Ives Medal
of the Optical Society of America (2001), the Japan Prize (1995), the
National Academy of Sciences’ Award for the Industrial Application
of Science (1993), the Optical Society’s Charles Hard Townes Award
(1992) and the U.S. National Medal of Science (1990). He is a member
of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Academy of
Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
the American Physical Society, the IEEE, the Optical Society of America
and is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Seven of
his 60 doctoral students are members of the National Academy of Engineering.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will present the awards in St. Petersburg
on June 15.