Professor Chair in Nuclear Physics, Emeritus. Polytechnical University of Madrid, Spain
Professor Guillermo Velarde obtained his Master degree in 1952 and his Doctor degree in 1959 at the Polytechnical University of Madrid. In 1956 he started working in the Theoretical Physics Section of the Spanish Atomic Energy Commission (Junta de Energía Nuclear, JEN). Few months later he was sent to the United States to study nuclear physics and reactor theory at Pennsylvania State University and Argonne National Laboratory. Afterwards, he started working in Atomics International of California in a project for the design of a heavy water reactor.
When he returned to Spain to the JEN in the Fall 1963, he began research in the field of transport theory, slowing down and thermalisation of neutrons. In 1966 he was appointed professor and in 1973 got the Chair of Nuclear Physics at the Polytechnical University of Madrid, teaching the speciality of quantum mechanics. Simultaneously to this academic activity, Professor Velarde continued his work as researcher of the JEN where he was appointed Director of Advanced Technology in 1974. This direction included the following divisions: Electronics, Engineering, In-Service Reactor Theory and Calculations, and Fusion.
Papers published by J. Nuckolls et al. in 1972 encouraged him to work in inertial nuclear fusion and he started his research in direct-driven targets based on the micropellet of DT with a layer of plutonium. To carry out these studies he organized a small but very competent group with half a dozen of scientists selected among his most brilliant students of his courses on Quantum Mechanics. Their research led to the development of NORCLA code, the first non-classified coupled code, including time-dependent hydrodynamics and realistic neutron-gamma transport with adequate energy source from fusion and fission materials. NORCLA was made of two modules: NORMA (for hydrodynamics) and CLARA (for fusion-fission sources and neutron-gamma transport).
In 1976, Professor Velarde submitted to the 19th Nuclear Energy Agency Committee in Reactor Physics held in Chalk River (Canada) a paper entitled Neutronic of Laser Fission-Fusion Systems in which the first calculation with NORCLA was postulated. This was one of the first papers published on inertial confinement fission-fusion. Since then, this code has been enlarged including two-dimensional transport and different codes for atomic physics, safety and materials.
In 1981, the JEN decided to devote all its efforts to the magnetic confinement fusion research. For this reason Professor Velarde left the JEN and founded the Institute of Nuclear Fusion (DENIM) at the Polytechnical University of Madrid. Afterwards the group that had been working with him in inertial fusion left also the JEN and joined the DENIM.
Among other data of interest, Professor Velarde was Commissioner of the Spanish Commission on Space Research (1978-1981). Chairman of the Inertial Fusion Energy Coordinating Committee of the European Union (1999-2007) and Chairman of seven international conferences. He has published 354 papers on nuclear physics, neutron transport theory and inertial confinement nuclear fusion. He has written the book Quantum Mechanics (McGraw Hill-2002) and is co-editor of other seven books. Among his publications, it is worth to remark the last one, co-edited with Natividad Carpintero-Santamaría, Inertial Confinement Nuclear Fusion: A Historical Approach by its Pioneers (Foxwell and Davies UK Ltd-2007) which describes for the first time the work carried out by the leading and pioneer scientists in this field during the last 50 years at the main international nuclear laboratories. This book is considered as recommended reading by Euratom.
One the most touching moments of his life was when he was invited to Moscow by the Academician Oleg Krokhin to address the memorial lecture on Nobel Laureate Nicolai G. Basov at the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002. At the end of this ceremony, Mrs. Basova gave him Academician Basov’s personal watch as a token of the sincere friendship that both scientists (Basov and Velarde) shared along their lives.
Professor Velarde was director of the Institute of Nuclear Fusion from 1981 to 2004, being now its President. His Institute has been visited by about 200 international scientists, among them, Edward Teller and five Nobel Prizes: Rudolph Mossbauer, Leo Esaki, Nicolai G. Basov, Jack Steinberg and Carlo Rubbia and, upon the request of Professor Velarde, the Polytechnical University of Madrid granted the Honoris Causa Doctorate to Professors Mossbauer, Esaki, Basov and Rubbia.
He has been granted with 7 national awards ((Virgen de Loreto, Vara del Rey, two Carlos Haya, Garcia Morato and Awards to the Research Work and to the Leadership of a Research Team granted by the Polytechnic University).
In 1997 he was awarded with the Edward Teller Award as recognition of his research in inertial fusion energy and in 1998 Professor Velarde received the Archie H. Arms Award for this work in emerging nuclear energy systems.
In 2011 he was granted with the Award Marqués de Santa Cruz de Marcenado in recognition to a life devoted to the scientific research.
In 2007 he was elected Member of the European Academy of Sciences.