European award to IPP scientist

Klaus Hallatschek receives European Young Investigator Award

September 26, 2006
Physicist Dr. Klaus Hallatschek of Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching near Munich is to be honoured with the European Young Investigator Award (EURYI Award). These endowment prizes of about one million euros each are being awarded this year also to 24 other outstanding young scientists from eleven European countries. The prizes are to be presented in Prague on 13 October 2006.

A EURYI Award is intended to give young scientists the opportunity of setting up their own groups of young investigators at European research institutions of their choice. These programmes of excellence are open to scientists of all disciplines and are directed at candidates throughout the world. By this means the donators of the prize, the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs), want to enhance the attractiveness of the European research area in international competition.

The research field of Klaus Hallatschek (born in Augsburg in 1970) is turbulence – to be more exact, the theory of plasma turbulence, in which field he has distinguished himself as an internationally outstanding young scientist: Turbulence in liquids, gases or plasmas is usually regarded as completely disorderly eddies and fluctuating flows. Actually, however, turbulent processes can spontaneously become orderly under certain conditions. In fusion experiments it is possible to observe turbulent plasma states in which extensive shear flows, so-called zonal flows, develop from the small disorderly eddies. Klaus Hallatschek has succeeded in describing such effects by means of powerful computers. From the determination of their dynamic properties he hopes to clarify their long-term behaviour and the associated state changes of the turbulence.

This is important for the development of a fusion power plant, in which atomic nuclei fusing in hot plasmas are to supply energy – just as in the sun. Besides being present in fusion plasmas, zonal flows also occur in gas planets, e. g. in the coloured belts of Jupiter and in certain ocean flows. Klaus Hallatschek will use the EURYI Award to fund a group working with supercomputers to investigate zonal flows in detail.

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