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  • Townes Receives Honorary Doctorate of Science
Feb 2011
GLASGOW, Scotland, Feb. 8, 2011 — A Nobel prize-winning pioneer in laser technology has received an honorary degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

Professor Charles Townes, of the University of California at Berkeley, received the Honorary Doctorate of Science for work in the field of quantum electronics, which included the development of the maser — a forerunner of the laser — and which led to him jointly winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964.

(l-r) Charles Townes and Jim McDonald.

Townes has been working in physics since the 1930s and remains active as an academic in Berkeley’s Graduate School. He received his honorary degree at a ceremony in San Francisco.

“Professor Townes’ career is remarkable, not only for its longevity but also for the level of innovation he has achieved,” said Jim McDonald, Strathclyde principal professor. “By pioneering the maser, and carrying out pivotal work in the development of the laser, he helped to pave the way for technology which has a vast range of uses in today’s world, in medicine, energy, communications and computing. After more than 70 years, he continues to contribute to exploration in physics and to the debate on its huge potential.

Strathclyde plays a key role in Scotland’s thriving laser sector, which employs 3000 people, by underpinning it with leading research and productive business links. The University is creating new and improved lasers with applications in fields including healthcare, dentistry, national security and pollution detection.

It also established the first Chair of Photonics and is the lead institution in SU2P, a venture between academic institutions in Scotland, with Caltech and Stanford University in California, exploring commercial opportunities for lasers, optics and semiconductors and researching their applications.

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