U. of I. colleagues think Nobel Prize selectors got physics prize wrong

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Colleagues have honored a retired University of Illinois professor they say deserved to win a Nobel Prize for inventing the first light-emitting diode, or LED.

Nick Holonyak Jr. invented the tiny red light that made fiber-optics networks, DVDs and other technologies possible. On Tuesday the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Japanese scientists who invented the blue LED.

Holonyak and many colleagues questioned the award. They say the blue LED wouldn’t have been possible without the work the 85-year-old Holynak and others did.

Holynak’s colleagues recognized his achievement at the Friday dedication of the new University of Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering building.

Dean Andreas Cangellaris said the Nobel decision is baffling.

“We can’t figure it out,” Cangellaris said. “The world can’t figure it out.”

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