No Nobel for the Father of the LED
Given the Nobel Foundation’s statutes (three people at maximum, no posthumous awards), it’s almost inevitable that every year, there will be people who deserve a share of a Nobel Prize that are left out.
Nick Holonyak Jr., the person widely credited with the development of the first visible-light LED, the device that now lights up countless clocks, traffic signals, and other electronic displays, might be one of them. On Tuesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics to three inventors of the blue light-emitting diode. Holonyak isn’t exactly complaining that he isn’t among them; his objection is that his 1962 invention has never been singled out for recognition by the academy.
“Hell, I’m an old guy now,” Holonyak said in an interview with the Associated Press. “But I find this one insulting.”
In announcing the prize yesterday, the Nobel Foundation highlighted the great potential social impact of blue LEDs, which made LED bulbs possible and could help dramatically reduce the amount of energy the world expends on lighting.