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Honorary degree for groundbreaking laser scientist

Professor Charles Townes, the Nobel prize-winning pioneer in laser technology, has received an honorary degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

Professor 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.

Professor 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.

Strathclyde Principal Professor Jim McDonald said: 'Professor Townes' career is remarkable, not only for its longevity, but also for the level of innovation he has achieved.

'By pioneering the maser, and carrying out pivotal work in the development of the laser, he helped to pave the way for technology that 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.

'Scotland's laser industry is worth £660m to the economy and Strathclyde has played a prominent role in its development, through the impact of our high quality research, by nurturing new recruits to the industry and by launching highly innovative companies which have gone on to be successful in the sector. We are proud that another of the world's most distinguished physicists has joined the Strathclyde community.'

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