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University of Illinois to name lab after LED pioneer

May 10, 2019
Professor Emeritus Nick Holonyak Jr. talks about his work while going through a folder of papers and photographs Monday, May 6, 2019, in Urbana. (Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette via AP)
Professor Emeritus Nick Holonyak Jr. talks about his work while going through a folder of papers and photographs Monday, May 6, 2019, in Urbana. (Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette via AP)

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is planning to name its Micro and Nanotechnology Lab after an engineering visionary who created the first practical LED.

Professor Emeritus Nick Holonyak Jr., a UI engineering alumnus, found a new alloy in 1962 that would emit light in the red segment of the visible spectrum.

Energy-saving LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are now universal and are used in everything from flashlights and electronics to spacecraft.

UI trustees will vote next week on whether to name the UI Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory in Holonyak’s honor, the News-Gazette reported.

“All the technologies that came to light and distinguished the University of Illinois over the years as a leader in the transformation of the microelectronics industry started” in Holonyak’s lab, Provost Andreas Cangellaris told the trustees at a meeting Monday.

UI College of Engineering officials said that very few graduates in UI’s 152-year history have had as much influence as the Franklin County native.

“He changed the world,” said his long-time collaborator, UI engineering Professor Milton Feng.

Holonyak credits the school and John Bardeen, a globally celebrated engineer and a two-time Nobel laureate who he studied under as a graduate student, for transforming his life.

“The greatest thing they ever did was find the money, when there was no money, to bring John here,” Holonyak said. “When I came here, I didn’t know how I’d be changing the world. I didn’t know where we were going. Someone had to make an investment in what we were doing. This is a remarkable place.”

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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