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Aleksandr M. Prokhorov

Aleksandr M. ProkhorovAKA Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Prokhorov

Born: 11-Jul-1916
Birthplace: Atherton, Queensland, Australia
Died: 8-Jan-2002
Location of death: Moscow, Russia
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Russia
Executive summary: Invention of the maser and laser

Military service: Soviet Army (1941-44; WWII)

Aleksandr M. Prokhorov was born in Australia, where his parents had fled after his father's revolutionary activism against the Czarist rule of Russia had endangered their lives. His family returned to Russia when he was about five years of age. After studying physics at Leningrad State University, he researched radiospectroscopy and quantum electronics at the Lebedev Physical Institute, where in 1955 he teamed with his colleague Nikolay G. Basov to design and build a molecular oscillator.

Using this device to excite electrons into higher-energy states, they created the first maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). When adapted to shorter wavelengths of light, the principles of the maser led to development of the laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). With Basov and American physicist Charles H. Townes, Prokhorov won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964. He was also an outspoken opponent of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Wife: Galina Shelepina (geographer, m. 1941, one son)
Son: Kiril (laser physicist, b. 1945)

    University: BS Physics, Leningrad State University (1939)
    Scholar: Oscillations Lab, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1939-41)
    Scholar: Oscillations Lab, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1944-54)
    University: PhD Physics, Leningrad State University (1951)
    Administrator: Director of Oscillations Lab, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1944-54)
    Administrator: Founder & Director, Prokhorov General Physics Institute, Moscow (1982-88)

    Russian Medal of Valor 1946
    Russian Academy of Sciences 1960
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1964 (with Charles H. Townes, Nikolay G. Basov)
    Order of Lenin 1967, 1969, 1975, 1981, 1986
    Hero of Socialist Labor 1969
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Member, 1968
    OSA Herbert E. Ives Medal 2000
    Optical Society of America Foreign Member
    Russian Ancestry


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