On the famous portrait of John Bardeen, Willian Shockley and Walter Brattain:
Zeigler, Illinois; 1928
Nick Holonyak, inventor of the light-emitting diode (LED), is a silicon researcher who was John Bardeen's first student, and later his friend. Holonyak worked at Bell Labs (after Bardeen left) and had first hand experience with transistor research there. He is a firm believer that John Bardeen didn't get as much recognition as he deserved for developing the physics theories that made the invention of the transistor possible -- and that William Shockley got too much recognition.
Holonyak was born on November 3, 1928 in Zeigler, Illinois. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Illinois in Electrical Engineering. In 1951, he took his first course from Bardeen and, in that class, Holonyak first laid eyes on a transistor. In 1952, he transferred out of vacuum tube research into Bardeen's semiconductor lab, even though he was mocked by some of his fellow students. But Holonyak made the right choice -- semiconductors soon revolutionized the electronics industry.
When he finished graduate school in 1954, he was hired at Bell to work on a number of silicon devices, including transistors. He continued on in solid state science, working for the US Army Signal Corp and General Electric, before returning to be a professor at the University of Illinois in 1963. He is the author of Semiconductor Controlled Rectifiers published in 1964 and of Physical Properties of Semiconductors published in 1989. He is still doing research at Illinois in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
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