European Prize for IPP Plasma Physicist

Hartmut Zohm awarded Hannes Alfvén Prize of the European Physical Society

May 30, 2016

For his outstanding contributions to fusion research Hartmut Zohm of Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching bei München is being honoured with the Hannes Alfvén Prize 2016 of the European Physical Society (EPS).

Experimental physicist Professor Dr. Hartmut Zohm is receiving – along with theoretician Professor Dr. Bulanov from the National Institute of Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology in Japan – the Alfvén Prize in recognition of his “experimental and theoretical contributions to the development of large-scale next-step devices in high-temperature plasma physics research”. The objective of fusion research is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei.

Hartmut Zohm is being honoured particularly for his theoretical derivation and subsequent experimental demonstration that a particular perturbation in the plasma, the Neoclassical Tearing Modes, can be stabilised by injecting micro-waves. In large devices like the international ITER test reactor, now being built in France, such perturbations would be particularly detrimental. The investigations being conducted by Hartmut Zohm in his Europe-wide networked DEMO Studies Group is advancing even beyond ITER requirements. Their results are preparing for the planning of a demonstration power plant. This includes stable confinement of plasmas of densities higher than needed for ITER – which has already been demonstrated on Garching’s ASDEX Upgrade device. Another example is the limitation of the wall load caused by the hot plasma: by injecting impurities into the plasma in conjunction with fast feedback regulation, ASDEX Upgrade was able to ensure for the first time ever, on the one hand, that the required high-power plasmas of many million degrees can be maintained and, on the other, that the wall of the plasma vessel is not overloaded – an important result on the way to a fusion power plant.

The prize, named after Swedish plasma physicist and Nobel prizewinner Hannes Alfvén, is awarded annually by the Plasma Physics Section of the European Physical Society for outstanding achievements. This year’s prize is to be presented at the beginning of July at the EPS Plasma Physics Conference in Louvain, Belgium.

Isabella Milch

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