SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Basov and Prokhorov. Portrait of the Soviet Russian physicists Nikolai Basov (1922-2001, left) and Aleksandr Prokhorov (1916-2002, right). Basov and Prokhorov are primarily known for their work on developing masers, the microwaves produced by systems of energised (excited) atoms. Maser stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. They also applied this technique to amplify light (the laser). They went on to develop various methods of exciting atoms to give laser beams, including the three-level pumping method, and later used lasers to produce thermonuclear reactions. The pair shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for this work, along with Townes.
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