2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering Awarded to OSA Member Nick Holonyak, Jr.

12 May 2017

2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering Awarded
to OSA Member Nick Holonyak, Jr.

WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA), the leading global professional organization in optics and photonics, congratulates Honorary member Nick Holonyak, Jr. on recieving the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering. Holonayk developed the first visible (red) laser and LED used in displays and lighting. His achievements have led to reduced energy consumption worldwide and contributed to the realization of optical data communications as the backbone of the Internet.

“The Franklin Institute Award is a prestigious recognition given to some of the greatest minds and most influential pioneers of our time,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society. “Holonyak’s seminal innovations are essential to many consumer products on the market today. On behalf of The Optical Society, I am pleased to congratulate Dr. Holonyak on receiving this distinguished honor.”
The Franklin Institute Awards have publicly recognized and encouraged outstanding accomplishments in the areas of science and technology since the institute was founded in 1824. Past recipients of the award include revolutionary men and women from around the world such as Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Jacques Cousteau, along with OSA Fellows including Marlan O. Scully and Hyatt M. Gibbs. The 2017 laureates were celebrated at the annual Awards Ceremony on 4 May 2017.

About Nick Holonyak, Jr.
Holonyak received his bachelor’s (1950), master’s (1951) and doctoral (1954) degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Illinois, USA, and was a graduate student of 1956 Nobel Laureate John Bardeen. Holonyak began his career at Bell Laboratories, where he worked on silicon-based electronic devices, proving the feasibility of the first diffused-impurity silicon device.  Professor Holonyak continued his work on electronic components, joining the Advanced Semiconductor Laboratory at General Electric Company, Syracuse, NY, USA, in 1957. While at GE, his inventions made key contributions to the area of advanced semiconductor power-controlled devices. Since 1963, Holonyak has served as a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, and today, he is the John Bardeen Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics.

During his tenure at the University of Illinois, Professor Holonyak has mentored over 60 graduate students, including a number of luminaries in the semiconductor field: Don Scifres, Jim Coleman and Milton Chang, with eight of his former students listing membership to the National Academy of Engineering. Holonyak’s academic career also includes 500 peer reviewed publications, with two of his papers being listed as one of the five most important papers in an American Institute of Physics journal.

Holonyak is the recipient of many notable awards, including the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology, OSA Ives Medal and the Charles Hard Townes Award. The Holonyak Award was established in his name by The Optical Society in 1997, to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to optics based on semiconductor-based optical devices and materials.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit: osa.org.

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