Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich

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Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich

(əlyĭksän`dər mēkhī`ləvĭch prô`khərəf), 1916–2002, Russian physicist, b. Atherton, Queensland, Australia. In 1923 he was taken to the Soviet Union by his parents, who had emigrated to Australia to escape the czarist regime. In 1947 he began his research into the coherent radiation of electrons, followed by pioneering work in the field of radio-frequency spectroscopy. With N. G. BasovBasov, Nikolai Gennadiyevich
, 1922–2001, Russian physicist and educator, b. Usman. He worked with A. M. Prokhorov to develop a technique for amplifying microwave signals in spectroscopic experiments, ultimately leading to the construction of a maser (1952).
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 he created an oscillator based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic waves by the excited molecules of a molecular beam. In the process of developing an ammonia-beam molecular oscillator, Prokhorov formulated the main principles of, and laid the physical foundation for, quantum electronics. For this work, which led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the masermaser
, device for creation, amplification, and transmission of an intense, highly focused beam of high-frequency radio waves. The name maser is an acronym for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of r
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[acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation], device for the creation, amplification, and transmission of a narrow, intense beam of coherent light. The laser is sometimes referred to as an optical maser.
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 principle, Prokhorov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Basov and C. H. TownesTownes, Charles Hard,
1915–2015, American physicist and educator, b. Greenville, S.C. He was educated at Furman Univ., Duke, and the California Institute of Technology (Ph.D.
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Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich


Born June 28 (July 11), 1916, in Atherton, Australia. Soviet physicist, one of the founders of quantum electronics. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1966; corresponding member, 1960); member of the Presidium (1970) and academician-secretary (1973) of the division of general physics and astronomy of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Hero of Socialist Labor(1969). Member of the CPSU since 1950.

Prokhorov is the son of a Russian worker and revolutionary who was exiled for his revolutionary activity to Siberia and subsequently emigrated to Australia. He graduated from Leningrad State University in 1939, and from 1939 to 1941 and from 1944 to 1946 he was a postgraduate student (aspirant) at the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. From 1941 to 1943 he served in the Soviet Army. In 1946, Prokhorov began working at the Institute of Physics, where he became head of a laboratory in 1954 and the institute’s deputy director in 1968. In 1959 he was appointed a professor at Moscow State University and in 1971 director of a subdepartment at the Moscow Physicotechnical Institute. He has been editor in chief of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia since 1969.

Together with N. G. Basov, Prokhorov developed a fundamentally new method for generating electromagnetic waves using quantum systems and devised the first molecular generator using beams of ammonia molecules (beam-type maser, 1954–55). With his colleagues, he developed methods for creating paramagnetic masers (1957–58). In 1958, he proposed the application of ruby in quantum electronics and advanced the idea of open resonators, which are used in laser technology. In 1967 he advanced the idea of creating a gas dynamic laser. Prokhorov is the author of fundamental works on constructing powerful lasers operating in the infrared and visible regions, on nonlinear optics, and on the resonance and nonresonance interactions of powerful laser radiation with matter.

Prokhorov received the Lenin Prize in 1959 and a Nobel Prize in 1964. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1971). Prokhorov has been awarded two Orders of Lenin and several medals.


“Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov (K 50-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia).” Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 1966, vol. 89, issue 3.