Craford’s career spans from the early days when LEDs were first developed to delivery of LEDs suitable for commercial use in a variety of applications, including LED bulbs. He is known for his invention of the yellow LED in 1972. Craford then led the development of increasingly brighter red, orange and amber LEDs. In 1979, Craford began work at Hewlett-Packard, where his team pioneered the development of AlInGaP LEDs using metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). MOCVD was then a relatively expensive lower volume process and had not been utilized for the high volume commercial production of LEDs. AlInGaP LEDs increased the performance of red and yellow LEDs by more than 10 times. Craford’s team continued to achieve technology breakthroughs in AlInGaP LEDs, eventually reaching 100 lm/W.
“Not only was George responsible for breakthroughs in technology, but with his team, ensured that the technology could be cost effectively manufactured,” says Mark Karol, 2017 IEEE Awards Board Chair.
One can see the impact of Craford’s early work in the color LEDs in traffic signals, emergency and automotive lighting. Craford’s later work focused on making white LED light cost effective for retail, office, architectural, outdoor and industrial lighting markets. In the early 2000s, his team’s work enabled commercialization of the first high power LEDs in the 10-20 lumen range. Such LEDs contributed to the creation of the first LED bulbs to meet the efficiency and lifecycle requirements to win the U.S. Department of Energy’s L Prize for a 60W-equivalent LED bulb.
“George has an instinct for what will work, but at the same time he’s got that practical engineering side that drives a solution until it produces the best results,” says Jy Bhardwaj, Chief Technology Officer of Lumileds.
Craford is a Solid State Lighting Fellow at Lumileds. He is an IEEE Life Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has received numerous awards including the 2002 National Medal of Technology and the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Engineering Charles Stark Draper Prize. He has also been awarded the International SSL Alliance Global Solid State Lighting Development Award, the Strategies in Light LED Pioneer Award, the University of Illinois Alumni Distinguished Service Award, the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Award, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the Optical Society of America Nick Holonyak Jr. Award, the International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors Welker Award, the Materials Research Society MRS medal, the Electrochemical Society Electronic Division Award and the Economist Innovation Award.