Federico Bedarida (1924-2004)

[Bedarida]Federico Bedarida, Professor in Crystallography at Genoa University until 1999, died December 12, 2004 at the age of 80.

From the beginning of his academic career, “Beda” (to friends) gave an original and quite anomalous touch to his style of Italian Crystallography.

His lifelong interest in crystal surface investigations arose from the Tolansky papers on optical interferometry. At the beginning of the 1960s he spent a year in the Physics Dept. of London University (Holloway College) where he studied the microtopography of crystal surfaces under the guidance of S. Tolansky. He became an expert in new optical techniques, such as double beam interferometry and the analysis of the interference fringes of equal chromatic order and light profiles. In the 1970s, Beda and his Genoa team (C.Pontiggia, L. Zefiro and successively P. Boccacci) refined these techniques by applying holographic interferometry to reflection microscopy. They succeeded in depth mapping of a crystal surface relief by the multiple wavelength holographic technique.

He was fascinated by crystals as “…entities which bring and loose life from the surrounding through their surfaces…”. Frequent contacts with the people of Kern’s School in Marseille, with P. Hartman in Leiden, H. Arendt and E. Kaldis (Zürich) urged him toward crystal growth and, in particular, to characterization of the state of the solution around a growing or dissolving crystal.

During the 1980s he measured the concentration field in a supersaturated solution near growing crystal by means of multidirectional interferometry.

In order to check crystal growth in a microgravitational environment in collaboration with ESA, ASI and Alenia Spazio, the prototype of a compact optical tomograph was designed making use of optical fibers.

In the meanwhile, G. Dall’Aglio and E. Piano joined the research group. Using a newhome made phase measurement device (from optical diffraction) they obtained very localized information down to 20 microns from the crystal/solution interface.

He was sensitive to all problems concerning real crystals and he devoted his energies to opening up new horizons in Italian Crystallography. He was a co-founder of the Italian Crystal Growth Association (AIC) and promoted the first Italian schools on crystal growth , in 1977, along with other international schools on crystal growth in Erice (1975, 1981, 1987).

This plain man of great culture, endowed with that rarest thing which is common sense, created an agreeable work environment for all those who had the privilege of collaborating with him.

Dino Aquilano