Berkeley Honors CU's Jacques Pankove As One Of Four Technology Leaders

Published: Sept. 17, 2000

CU-Boulder Professor Emeritus Jacques Pankove was one of four nationally known innovators in urban building design, military aviation and optical technology to receive the outstanding engineering alumni award from the University of California, Berkeley, last week.

A member of CU’s electrical engineering faculty from 1985 to 1993, Pankove has been a pioneer in the development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), now a multi-billion-dollar industry. Other honorees included Lynn Beedle, an international expert on the design and impact of high-rise structures; Gordon Graham, a U.S. Air Force retiree and innovator in the growth of military aviation and Erich Ippen, a leader in the creation of ultra-fast optics to unlock molecular-level mysteries of science.

The four received the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award Sept. 14 from UC-Berkeley’s Engineering Alumni Society. The award is presented annually to recognize exceptional achievement in research, industry, education and public service.

The honors were presented at a dinner at the Claremont Resort Hotel in Berkeley.

Pankove’s invention of the gallium nitride light emitting diode (LED) has brought about a revolution in worldwide luminescence.

As a source of light, LEDs can shine for one-and-a-half million hours or more, nearly 200 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Their bright light, visible even in harsh sunlight, is ideal for auto lights, traffic signals and commercial advertising.

A $3 billion industry is developing around the blue LED, which Pankove first produced in 1971 at RCA Labs, where he went to work after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC-Berkeley in 1944 and 1948.

He joined the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1985, retiring in 1993 to pursue research at Astralux, a company he founded in Boulder in 1992. The catalog of his achievements in semiconductors, lasers, LEDs and superconductivity spans the most dynamic fields in electrical engineering.