Obituary for Rafael Navarro, precursor of high temperature superconductors in Zaragoza
On 25 September 2020, Rafael Navarro passed away in Zaragoza. He was a Materials Science Professor at the University of Zaragoza and the Institute of Materials Science of Aragon (currently, Institute of Nanoscience and Materials of Aragon, INMA). He was also a friend and collaborator of many ICMAB researchers working in the field of magnetic oxides and superconductors.
He did his PhD Thesis at the Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratorium in Leiden (The Netherlands), where superconductivity was discovered. During the 90's he introduced high temperature superconducting materials in Zaragoza and he devoted many of his research years to these materials, while creating a great school and network of researchers. In 2009 he became member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Zaragoza and his first speech in the Academy was entitled "A century of superconductivity". He retired in 2019 with many of his friends and colleagues who honored him.
During his long academic and research live, he made relevant contributions mainly in the fields of magnetic, electric and thermal properties of materials, and in superconductivity and high temperature superconducting materials, from theoretical aspects to more applied and experimental contributions.
Some of the ICMAB researchers would like to send him some last words. He will be missed!
Teresa Puig, ICMAB researcher and Head of the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) group:
"Rafael Navarro, Rafa for the friends, devoted a large part of his last 30 years to the study of High Temperature Superconductors (HTS). I had the pleasure to meet him when HTS were discovered, he was then part of my PhD Thesis committee, and we kept in contact for many years. His contributions to the granular character of HTS inspired me and many researchers. I will never forget his realism and smile. A big hug, Rafa."
Nieves Casañ, ICMAB researcher in the Solid State Chemistry group:
"I am sorry you are no longer here, my friend. You left so soon. You taught me that a fluid communication between physicists and chemists can exist and how to value each other in a common project, with sincerity and respect. In this competitive world, science comes first, before egos, and this is how you showed it to the world every day. Thanks to scientists like you, coming back to Spain was worth it. Always in my heart"
Xavier Obradors, ICMAB Director and Researcher in the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) group:
"Spectacular scientific discoveries are sometimes the spark that initiates great friendships. This was the case with high temperature superconductivity in 1986. At that time, the field of superconductivity was nearly inexistent in our country, but we already had a few enthusiastic groups in the fields of magnetism and solid-state chemistry. Personally, I had recently returned to Barcelona after my years of doctoral thesis in the field of magnetism in Grenoble and one of my references was the University of Zaragoza, where a small group already stood out, they were Domingo González, Juan Bartolomé and Rafael Navarro. All three had been trained in Leiden, in the laboratory where Kamerling Onnes had discovered superconductivity in 1911. It was to them that I dedicated my first visit on my way back to Barcelona and we immediately made some complicities, especially after the simultaneous creation of the ICMA and the ICMAB within the CSIC.
Three groups (ICMAB, ICMA and Universidad Complutense) felt that they were in front of a great scientific opportunity in which they had to join forces, the personal affinity did the rest, the beginning of a great friendship. The Spanish superconductivity community started to move forward. In Zaragoza, Rafa Navarro was one of the points of reference. These were unforgettable years. We went together to countless scientific conferences, and collaborated in national and European projects.
How many conversations of all kinds, how many shared beers, how many times we had fixed the world and, above all, the science of our country. Rafa always had a touch of irony and bonhomie in his opinions, always original, he knew how to listen to others and was always open to learn new knowledge, always cheerful and positive. It was a pleasure to enjoy his company. Now we look back and it is when we appreciate most what we have unfortunately lost, the presence of Rafa Navarro among us, his company. Last year, in the last meeting of the RSEF Biennial in Zaragoza, a special session was organized dedicated to superconductivity in which we were able to dedicate him a well-deserved recognition. I am convinced that his memory will remain with us for a long time. Goodbye Rafa!"
Lourdes Fàbrega, ICMAB researcher in the Laboratory of Multifunctional Thin Films and Complex Structues (MULFOX) group:
"He was a magnificent scientist but above all an excellent person. I met him in Cambridge in 1991, when I was doing my thesis in superconductivity. In fact, he was a member of my PhD thesis committee. I remember that we had a discussion about a specific aspect, which we disagreed with, and he invited me to visit the ICMA. It was a very nice meeting, and we kept in contact over the years, although the frequency of the meetings decreased. His calm, intelligent and humorous smile remains in my memory. Not only was his scientific value enormous, but also his human quality."
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