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    The LED Turns 50: An Interview With Inventor Nick Holonyak
    By News Staff | October 23rd 2012 04:30 PM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    One morning last March, engineers at General Electric’s Nela Park research lab in Cleveland, Ohio, opened a century-old time capsule hidden in a corner stone of Building 307. Inside the cavity and beneath a layer of sand was a standard 40-watt Mazda incandescent bulb made at the time of Thomas Edison.

    The engineers brushed off the dirt, screwed the lamp into a socket, and slowly powered it on. The bulb’s soft yellow glow was like a faint echo from the Big Bang that set GE on course to become a global industrial powerhouse.

    Two months later, researchers at the very same lab turned on a new LED that shines like a modern 100-watt incandescent light bulb but consumes a third less power as the Edison-era 40-watt lamp - almost 50 years after GE physicist Nick Holonyak invented the world’s first LED. “When I went in, I didn’t realize all that we were going to do,” says Holonyak, now 83 years old but still teaching engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “As far as I am concerned, the modern LED starts at GE.”

    In celebration of the LED turning 50, they did an interview with Holonyak, who talks about the importance of exploratory work in science and technology, the development of the first LED device and how innovations continue to improve development—like say a 27 watt light bulb that shines like a 100 watt one.



    He's an 83 year old tinkerer still "banging the goddamn hell out of transistors" every day, to use his words. His latest work is on a transistor laser that could eliminate the need for semiconductor microchips in computing. Of course, if he had stopped after the LED his place in the pantheon would be secure. But he's not the kind of guy to stop. 

    Source: GE Reports