European Prize for Plasma Physicist from IPP

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Wagner awarded Hannes Alfvén Prize 2007

July 02, 2007

Professor Dr. Friedrich Wagner from Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Greifswald Branch, has been awarded the Hannes Alfvén Prize 2007 of the European Physical Society (EPS) for his outstanding contributions to fusion research.

The favourable plasma state discovered by Friedrich Wagner – the so-called H-regime – has, to quote the laudatio, led fusion research into a new era of high performance plasmas of major significance for ITER and subsequent fusion power plants. The laudatio goes on to state that the successes achieved with Garching’s Wendelstein 7-AS fusion device, headed by him, had re-vitalised stellarators as a competitive confinement concept. The prize, presented on 2 July 2007 at the opening of the EPS Plasma Physics Conference in Warsaw, goes to Germany for the first time.

Friedrich Wagner (born 1943) has been engaged in plasma physics at Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Garching and Greifswald since 1975. The plasmas investigated there – ionized low-density gases – should make it possible to realise a power plant that derives energy from fusion of atomic nuclei just like the sun does. For this purpose the fuel, a hydrogen plasma, has to be confined in a magnetic field cage and heated to a high temperature.

In 1982 Friedrich Wagner discovered in Garching’s ASDEX fusion device a plasma state with particularly good properties: Under certain conditions self-organised transport barriers form at the plasma edge – a momentous discovery in the development of fusion research. The favourable plasma state, called high-confinement regime or H-regime for short, ensures good plasma confinement, thus paving the way for further successes in the field: JET, the European large-scale experiment at Culham, UK, succeeded for the first time in the world in producing significant fusion power with the H-regime. This was also a prerequisite for planning the ITER international fusion test reactor, construction of which is to commence next year at Cadarache, France. In 1986 Friedrich Wagner was appointed as project head of the ASDEX experiment, two years later as Scientific Fellow and Director at IPP. This was followed by his appointment as project head of Wendelstein 7-AS at Garching and from 2003 till 2005 as head of its successor, Wendelstein 7-X, now being built at IPP’s Greifswald branch – both devices being of the alternative stellarator type. Since 1999 Friedrich Wagner has been Professor of Physics at Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Greifswald. In 2006 he was elected as President of the European Physical Society.

The prize, named after the Swedish plasma physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Hannes Alfvén, is awarded annually by the Plasma Physics Section of the EPS for outstanding achievement in the fields of experimental, theoretical and technological plasma physics.

Isabella Milch

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