Charles Hard Townes

Charles Hard Townes was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1915.

He attended Furman University and graduated with honors at the age of 19. He completed a Master’s degree at Duke and a Ph. D. in 1939 at Caltech. He worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories and during WWII did research on radar technology. He became part of the faculty at Columbia University in 1948 and continued his research in microwave physics.

Dr. Townes and his students coined the word “maser”. He has also contributed with research in the field of radio astronomy and nonlinear optics. He become Provost and Professor of Physics at MIT in 1961. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 for his work in quantam electronics which led to the development of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-taser principle. He shared the prize with two Soviet physicists.

He has also received numerous awards and served on a number of scientific committees.He was appointed to the University of California in 1967 and continues to teach and do research.