Francesco Volpe

The founder Francesco Volpe is a physicist in a school of engineering, a creative and analytical thinker, an experimentalist who made contributions to theory and modelling, and a European who spent 13 years in the US. He has experience in public institutions, connections with start-ups, and is completing an Executive MBA at ESCP Europe. He is one of a handful of physicists worldwide who conducted research on all four major magnetic fusion concepts (tokamak, spherical tokamak, stellarator and reversed field pinch), as well as on liquid metals and metamaterials.  Basically he spent his entire life preparing for this moment: the launch of the first fusion start-up in Europe on a disruptive and yet academically rigorous, modular concept that blends and surpasses the best of different approaches -even simpler than tokamaks, nearly as compact as spherical tokamaks, as stable and easy to operate as stellarators, and internally coated with flowing liquid metals. Francesco earned his Laurea in Italy in 1998. In 2003 he was the first PhD student to graduate in Greifswald (Germany) from the group that was then operating Wendelstein 7-AS and is now operating the world premier stellarator, Wendelstein 7-X.  He completed his post-doctoral training in the UK and California. Since 2009 he has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and then at Columbia University, in New York. Francesco is best known for his contributions to Electron Bernstein Waves (special waves propagating at unusually high densities, good for fusion) and for being the first researcher to fully stabilize Locked Modes (the main cause of disruptions, which in turn are the main concern in the tokamak approach to fusion). More recently he coated the inside of a cylinder with a stable, gravity-defying flow of liquid metals -capable of withstanding the high heat and neutron fluxes in a fusion reactor. He authored or coauthored over 200 publications, including 74 journal articles with an h-index of 20, and trained over 60 junior scientists and engineers in various projects, including 3 PhD theses. His trainees are now working at Apple, the MIT, Princeton and other top institutions. He is a recipient of the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Gesellschaft, Germany, for his studies on Electron Bernstein Waves, of the Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for his experiments on Locked Modes, and of the Excellence in Fusion Engineering Award of Fusion Power Associates for “contributions in many areas”, including “innovations for stellarator and tokamak-torsatron hybrid configurations”.