William H. 'Hank' Carter, 70

Research Physicist and Electrical Engineer William H. 'Hank' Carter Dies at 70

William H.
William H. "Hank" Carter worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington for a couple of decades. (Family Photo - Family Photo)
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Friday, April 17, 2009

William H. "Hank" Carter, 70, a research physicist and electrical engineer who worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington from 1971 to 1993 and conducted research in optics, concentrating on the statistical properties of light, died March 20 at Suburban Hospital. He had pulmonary fibrosis.

As part of his graduate work, Dr. Carter designed and built one of the first lasers in Texas. Drawing on that foundation, he conducted research on the nature of laser light, holography, digital image processing and analysis, and coherence theory, which describes the random behavior of light.

With physicist Emil Wolf, he was a co-discoverer of the quasi-homogeneous source model. This concept showed succinctly the relationship between the intensity and coherence of light at the source and at great distances from the source and was used as a starting point for many other studies.

In time, this general area of research, to which Dr. Carter contributed, evolved and facilitated the development of practical military and civilian applications, such as weapons systems, medical imaging, printing, various types of instrumentation, and industrial and commercial processes.

He was a fellow emeritus of the SPIE-International Society for Optical Engineering and the Optical Society of America, where he was a former editor of its journal. His other professional affiliations included the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and he wrote more than 80 articles for professional journals. He lectured in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, among other schools.

William Harold Carter was a Houston native and a 1961 electrical engineering graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He also received a master's and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the school, in 1963 and 1966, respectively. He did postdoctoral work in physics at the University of Rochester.

During Army service in the late 1960s, he was assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency's office of research and development. From 1993 to 1994, he was program director for quantum electronics, waves and beams at the National Science Foundation.

He played cello with the Alexandria Symphony and other orchestras and chamber groups. His memberships included the Cosmos Club and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. He had a pilot's license.

His marriage to Lynda Craft Carter ended in divorce.

Survivors include his companion of more than 20 years, Linda Demlo, who divided her time between homes in Chevy Chase and Fairfax County; two children from his marriage, William H. Carter Jr. of Littleton, Colo., and Elizabeth Carter of Yoakum, Tex.; a brother; and two grandsons.

-- Adam Bernstein

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