William W. Hansen

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William W. Hansen was an American physicist who contributed greatly to the development of radar and is regarded as the founder of microwave technology.

Hansen was born on May 27, 1909 in Fresno, California. He entered Stanford University at only sixteen years of age and in 1933, earned his doctorate from the university. Hansen began his teaching career at Stanford after receiving his PhD. In 1937, Russel H. Varian and Sigurd F. Varian came to Stanford, working on what eventually became radar. Hansen incorporated some of the brothers' work in the development of the klystron. Between 1937 and 1940, Hansen worked with John R. Woodyard and other collaborators to establish the field of microwave electronics.

In 1941, Hansen and his team joined the Sperry Gyroscope Company, and remained there for the duration of World War II. Here, they helped develop Doppler radar, aircraft blind-landing systems, electron acceleration, and nuclear magnetic resonance. Hansen also served as a scientific consultant on the Manhattan Project during this time. In addition to his work at Sperry and his consultant duties, Hansen contributed to work done on radar at MIT's Radiation Laboratory.

Hansen received the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award in 1944. At the end of the war, he returned to Stanford as a full-time professor. He also served as the director of the university's microwave laboratory. While there, Hansen began the design of a 750-million-volt linear accelerator powered by high-power klystrons. Unfortunately, he died on May 23, 1949, before the accelerator was completed. His death was caused by lung disease, which resulted from the inhalation of beryllium, which he used in his research. The accelerator was completed at Stanford after his death.