EU Excellence Grant for IPP Scientist

Professor Dr. Frank Jenko awarded prestigious Starting Grant of the European Research Council

August 29, 2011

The European Research Council (ERC) has made a grant of 1.45 million euros over five years in support of the research on plasma turbulence being planned by Professor Dr. Frank Jenko at Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching by means of supercomputers. He has been awarded one of the much sought after Starting Grants for supporting excellent young scientists.

Looking at a starry sky shows it to be present everywhere – plasma turbulence, the swirling of ionised gases – and it is also encountered in the laboratory in the fundamental experiments conducted by plasma physicists and in the more industrial test series of plasma engineers. The swirling observed in their fuel – a hydrogen plasma – is also a central research theme with IPP’s fusion scientists developing a power plant modelled on the sun, because the size and hence the electricity price of a future fusion power plant depend on it. Fundamental aspects of this omnipresent natural phenomenon are, however, not yet clarified. In physical terms, one is dealing with nonlinear multi-particle processes leading to self-organisation far from thermodynamic equilibrium.

These are to be investigated by Frank Jenko’s team using supercomputers of the peta- to exascale class. This calls for the development of new computer programs tailored to the fastest computers that will become available in the next few years. These will be capable of processing quadrillions of computing operations per second. By means of these the turbulence in the plasma is to be numerically simulated – a major task involving the combined efforts of plasma physics, astrophysics and applied mathematics that is now being supported with an ERC Starting Grant of 1.45 million euros. As a scientist from an associate institute of the Helmholtz Associaton, Frank Jenko will also be entitled to another 250,000 euros that is granted by the Helmholtz Association to successful applicants from its associates.

The European Research Council (ERC) was established in 2007 to support frontier research projects throughout Europe. Its grants, awarded annually, rank amongst the most attractive funding awarded in the context of the current Seventh European Research Framework Programme. The only selection criterion is the researcher’s scientific excellence and the innovative potential of the research idea. Furthermore, the planned project must be incorporated in a European scientific facility or in a country associated with the Seventh Framework Programme.

Isabella Milch

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