Charles Hard Townes (July 28, 1915 – January 27, 2015) was an American Nobel Prize-winning physicist and inventor. Townes was known for his work on the theory and application of the maser, on which he got the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics connected with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov.
Townes was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the son of Ellen Sumter Townes (née Hard; 1881-1980) and Henry Keith Townes (1876-1958), an attorney. He earned his B.S./B.A. at Furman University. Townes completed work for the Master of Arts degree in Physics at Duke University in 1937, and then entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, from where he received a Ph.D. degree in 1939. During World War II he worked on radar bombing systems at Bell Labs.
Townes was appointed Professor in 1950 at Columbia University. He served as Executive Director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory from 1950 to 1952. He was Chairman of the Physics Department from 1952 to 1955...
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