Townes-Gordon-Zeiger maser, 1950s

Townes-Gordon-Zeiger maser, 1950s

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Townes-Gordon-Zeiger maser, on display at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, USA. The maser was invented by US physicist Charles Hard Townes (born 1915), his postdoctoral student Herbert J. Zeiger (1925-2011) and his graduate student James Power Gordon (born 1928). These first masers were built in 1954 and were based on the excitation of ammonia. Maser is an acronym formed from the phrase Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It was for this work that Townes was awarded a share of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics. He also received the 1959 Stuart Ballantine Medal from the Franklin Institute.

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