Fifty Years Ago, a Bright Idea

Nick Holonyak Jr. Image courtesy of USGOV
Nick Holonyak Jr. Image courtesy of USGOV

In October 1962, Nick Holonyak and colleagues at General Electric built the first practical light-emitting diode, or LED, that could emit visible light. Semiconductor LEDs are now a part of uncountable electronic devices. They’ve gone from being just a glowing indicator light on a control panel to being a source of room lighting, with many improvements in color, size, efficiency, and cost. Holonyak discusses the invention, and his work since then.

Nick Holonyak, who invented the LED 50 years ago, is still working on a bunch of projects, including a transistor laser. In this 10 second clip, he tells our listeners to get working on their own projects.

Segment Guests

Nick Holonyak, Jr.

Nick Holonyak is a John Bardeen Endowed Chair of electrical and computer engineering and physics in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.

Meet the Producer

About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director and senior producer, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.