Otto Hahn Medals awarded to two young scientists from IPP

Dr. Michael Kraus and Dr. Benedikt Geiger distinguished for their contributions to theoretical and experimental plasma physics

June 05, 2014

The winners of the Otto Hahn Medal 2014: From IPP Dr. Michael Kraus and Dr. Benedikt Geiger (second last row, 1. and 2. from the right), in the foreground MPG President Prof. Peter Gruss

Two Otto Hahn Medals were awarded by the Max Planck Society at the general meeting in Munich to young scientists from Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics at Garching. Dr. Michael Kraus and Dr. Benedikt Geiger received this distinction, which is intended to encourage outstanding young scientists to pursue a university or research career.

In plasma physics, as generally in the natural sciences, simulation calculations are assuming an ever more important role. In this respect Dr. Michael Kraus’s research interest is concerned with variation integrators for computer codes. Variation integrators are a family of numerical methods which conform well with the fundamental laws of physics such as energy and momentum conservation. Many standard procedures violate these laws, which often leads to physically incorrect results in numerical simulations. In his PhD thesis, for which he has now been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal, Dr. Michael Kraus has developed variation integrators for various systems in plasma physics. As the theory had hitherto not been applicable to the specific equations encountered in plasma physics, it had to be extended for this purpose. In so doing, Dr. Kraus succeeded in developing a general framework for dealing with conservation laws that is applicable not only to problems in plasma physics but also to most problems in physics.

Dr. Benedikt Geiger, likewise awarded the Otto Hahn Medal, is concerned in his PhD thesis with the dynamics of fast ions in fusion plasmas. Fast ions colliding transfer their energy to plasma ions and electrons, thus making an essential contribution to heating the plasma in a future fusion power plant. Dr. Geiger’s investigations, partly in collaboration with leading scientists from the USA, achieved a precision hitherto unknown. His results, acclaimed world-wide, are of great importance to fusion-oriented plasma physics since they confirm in detail important aspects of the theoretical description of self-heating of fusion plasmas which will form the basis of, for example, energy production in the ITER international experimental reactor.

The Otto Hahn Medal is endowed with 7,500 euros. It is awarded annually to 30 scientists, with recently conferred doctorate.

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