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13 May 2019

University of Illinois’ Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory renamed after Nick Holonyak Jr

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) says that (pending board of trustees approval) its Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) is to be renamed the Nick Holonyak Jr Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, in honor of the three-time Illinois alumnus (BSEE in 1950, MSEE in 1951, PhD in 1954), who was the first graduate student of two-time Nobel Laureate John Bardeen.

Photograph: ECE Emeritus professor Nick Holonyak.

After productive stints with Bell Labs and GE and service in the US Army Signal Corps in Japan, Holonyak joined the Illinois faculty in 1963, establishing a research program in the Electrical Engineering Research Lab.

ECE (Electrical & Computer Engineering) Emeritus professor Nick Holonyak is credited with inventing the first practical light-emitting diode. During the next four decades, he and his students produced technology advances such as the world’s first quantum-well laser, the impurity-induced layer disordering technique for high-power lasers, and the stable native oxide for vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), leading to brighter and more efficient LEDs and lasers used in fiber-optic communications, CD and DVD players, optical storage, medical diagnosis, surgery, ophthalmology and other applications.

In 2004, Holonyak, fellow ECE professor Milton Feng, post-doctoral researcher Gabriel Walter and graduate student Richard Chan invented the transistor laser, a three-terminal device that simultaneously delivers both an electrical signal and a coherent laser output. The transistor laser, which incorporates quantum wells into the base region of a high-speed heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT), may lead to higher-speed electronic-photonic integrated circuits (EPICs) for much faster computers and electronics.

Although he retired in 2013, Holonyak continues to collaborate and consult with Feng on transistor laser research. Holonyak is both a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He and his former students, Russ Dupuis and George Craford, received the 2015 Charles Stark Draper Prize (aka the Nobel Prize for engineering) and the 2002 National Medal of Technology for their invention, development and commercialization of LED technology.

“He continues to have an impact on our students and faculty 50 years after he joined our faculty,” comments Rashid Bashir, Dean of the College of Engineering. “His semiconductor innovation is the precursor to work being conducted at MNTL, so it is fitting that his name adorns the facility.”

Opened in 1989 at 208 North Wright Street in Urbana, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory is known for its III-V compound semiconductor device and processing research. Over the years, its mission has broadened to include advances that intersect engineering and other fields. Its faculty and students are conducting research that advances a broad range of applications, including high-speed data communications, high-efficiency lighting, solar power, flexible electronics, biosensors for drug discovery, biomedical imaging, disease diagnostics, vaccine delivery strategies, environmental monitoring, and novel microelectronics/photonics concepts for next-generation computing architectures.

“MNTL was built on the semiconductor legacy left by engineering giants like Nick Holonyak,” notes its director Brian Cunningham. “In the same spirit, we are producing innovations – in photonics, microelectronics, biotechnology and nanotechnology – that we anticipate will have similar positive impact to future generations.”

See related items:

LED lighting pioneers win Draper Prize for Engineering

Tags: UIUC

Visit: https://ece.illinois.edu/directory/profile/nholonya

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