Skip To Content

16 February 2016

Nick Holonyak Jr., Named Honorary Member of The Optical Society

16 February 2016

Nick Holonyak Jr., Named Honorary Member of The Optical Society

Holonyak recognized for his work on III-V alloy semiconductors and quantum wells

WASHINGTON—The Optical Society (OSA) announced that Nick Holonyak Jr., was named an Honorary Member. Holonyak was chosen “for his numerous technology innovations advancing solid state lighting, the Internet, high-performance computing, visible LEDs and quantum well diode lasers. The Optical Society’s Honorary Membership is the most distinguished membership status a society member may achieve and this status is confirmed by the OSA Board of Directors. Holonyak joins 47 distinguished Honorary Members.

“Holonyak’s seminal innovations are essential to many consumer products used by people all over the world,” said Philip Russell, 2015 President of The Optical Society.  “His work on III-V alloy semiconductors and quantum wells forms the basis of many important commercial devices, from visible LEDs to the internet. We are honored to recognize such a distinguished contributor to the field of optics.”

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 Feng, 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.

Honorary membership at The Optical Society is given to those who have made unique, seminal contributions to the field of optics. The number of living Honorary Members cannot exceed two-thousandths (2/1,000) of the total OSA Membership. Election requires the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors. For a complete listing of OSA's honorary members, visit OSA's website.

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:

Media Contact:
Image for keeping the session alive