1962: Nick Holonyak, Jr. demonstrates the world’s first visible light-emitting diode (LED) to General Electric suits, changing the world of lighting forever. Holonyak later said that the LED would replace incandescent lights. It’s just taking a little bit longer than expected.

Scientists at the GE Advanced Semiconductor Laboratory were researching a way to create energy-efficient visible light from LEDs. The incandescent lights that we still use today rely on igniting a filament housed in a vacuum to create light. The process is inefficient and only uses 10 percent of available energy to produce light. The rest is lost as heat.

In the early 1960s, the only light emitted from LEDs was infrared. The race to produce a visible LED had GE researchers scrambling to be first.

Holonyak suggested using a mixture of gallium arsenide and gallium phosphide (GaAs phosphide). His fellow scientists said the mixture would not work. In fact, they were pretty vocal in their disagreement with Holonyak’s hypothesis.

“You so and so, if you would have been a chemist, you would have known that wouldn’t work and all that,” Holonyak told the producers of A Brilliant Idea: Nick Holonyak, Jr. and the LED, a video about his colleagues’ lack of faith in his idea.

Undeterred, Holonyak forged head and created a GaAs phosphide crystal. Fifty years ago today, he presented the first visible LED to GE executives. His mixture created a red glow that’s still seen today. But Holonyak believed that the dim glow of his invention was just the beginning.

In the February 1963 issue of Reader’s Digest, Holonyak predicted that the LED would eventually replace incandescent bulbs. Bold words from a man who worked for GE, a company founded by Thomas Edison.

In the fall of that year, Holonyak returned to his alma mater, the University of Illinois. While at the university, Holonyak set up a laboratory with a small group of electrical engineering and physics students. The professor set the bar high for his students, remarking that they needed to beat the better-funded and larger teams at places like Bell Labs.

The desire to succeed against the larger labs paid off, with the group being on the forefront of LED and laser technology. Former student Dr. M. George Craford created the first yellow LED in 1972. He also increased the brightness of the red and yellow-red LED ten-fold. In 1977, Holonyak’s team also demonstrated the first quantum well laser. You can find this low-power, concentrated laser in CD and DVD players.

Now LEDs are in myriad devices, from the latest flashlights to the HDTV in your living room. And while the incandescent light bulb still burns brightly in many homes, its days are numbered. Government regulation and the falling cost of LEDs, which continue to glow brighter every year, are nipping at Edison’s baby.

Holonyak was right. It just took a few decades for everyone else to catch up.

Video: GE Reports interview with Holonyak in September about his discovery.

Reference and shared from = Wired.

Visit this site to know history of  LED – © 2011 University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Documentary : Nick Holonyak, Jr. is called the godfather of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. We interact with Holonyak’s inventions every day. The technology in visible LEDs, household dimmer switches, lasers that run CD and DVD players and fiber-optic communication networks can all be traced back to his laboratory at the University of Illinois. Holonyak is the son of immigrants and was raised in southern Illinois. He left back-breaking work on the Illinois Central Railroad to become the first in his family to attend school. Holonyak, who is now in his 80s, is still inventing and performing research in his lab at the College of Engineering. He is currently working on a “transistor laser,” which is the first device that simultaneously outputs electrical current and light. This program also includes information about the Engineering Open House, Concrete Canoe Racing at Illinois, and why students choose Engineering at Illinois.

LED, Nick Holonyak, Jr., lasers, dimmer switch, transistor laser, College of Engineering, concrete canoe, Engineering Open House – click on link   to know history and brilliant Idea came from Nick Holonyak in 1962 . Always visionaries wont be remembered but billionaires and companies names are shared / discussed daily by society  ??????

 Father of LED


From GE