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Donald R. Scifres MS '70 ENG, PHD '72 ENG

2014 University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award

Donald R. Scifres MS '70 ENG, PHD '72 ENG, is honored as a business and technology visionary, universally recognized for his achievements in semiconductor laser research and development. Among his more than 140 patents, his three diode laser structures are the most widely used such innovations in today’s optical fiber communication industry, and virtually all fiber Internet communications are generated or amplified by devices dependent on the original designs and contributions of Scifres and his colleagues. As a young scientist at Xerox Corporation in 1972, Scifres helped pioneer various forms of semiconductor lasers, and in 1983 he co-founded Spectra Diode Laboratories (SDL) Inc., a semiconductor laser and electro-optics system manufacturer which grew rapidly, spurred primarily by the fiber-optic infrastructure serving as conduit for worldwide Internet traffic. Scifres continued to serve in executive positions at JDS Uniphase, which had acquired SDL in 2001, and after retiring in 2003, he founded two investment capital companies. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), Scifres has served in leadership roles in various professional organizations and has been honored with numerous international awards for his work.

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