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David Woodward - MSc project at IPP Garching

MSc project at Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, Germany 
Reported by David Woodward. Powered by FuseNet

During my 3 month MSc project I was given the opportunity to visit the Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany, for two months. Clearly I jumped at this possibility, since it was a rare chance for me to enrich my education with a significant time abroad. Furthermore, I have always wanted to live somewhere in Europe outside the UK, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.

A very welcoming and supportive environment

After my arrival, I was apprehensive at first, since I didn’t speak any German and I didn't know anybody in Garching. However, after I met my local supervisor, Dr. Alf Kohn, who was extremely welcoming, I quickly felt more comfortable. I got to work in my very own office, while being given access to the restricted research facility that is IPP. I even was lucky enough to be given a tour around ASDEX-Upgrade by one of the post-docs during my stay. Also from an educational standpoint my placement has been invaluable to me, since it allowed me to see how a proper research department works.

Supported by Alf and by Dr. Roddy Vann, who is my supervisor back in York, I worked on the project. However, being situated in the IPP, I was always around other plasma physics experts that were eager to assist me or give me any advance in case I was having troubles. I couldn’t have asked for a better level of support. It may seem minor, but one of the greatest things about working at IPP was the lunch! Every day I had the opportunity to sit and eat with the other employees of the department, most of whom are research physicists. It was truly enriching to not only be able to bounce ideas off of them, but also to hear their other views on political or environmental issues.

Microwaves in X- or O-mode?

Microwaves are used extensively in tokamak plasmas for heating, current drive and diagnostics. Propagation of these microwaves through strongly in-homogeneous plasmas is a complex process and not well understood, because wave cutoff and resonant regions block the propagation of the waves. Mode conversion gives an efficient process by which to bypass these regions. During this project, I have been investigating the effect of magnetic shear on the efficiency of O-X mode conversion.

 

I would recommend anybody to spend some time abroad

In my spare time I greatly enjoyed exploring the surrounding German area. Garching is a quiet German town with many cultural activities and produce to enjoy, but a short 20-minute tram ride away is the city of Munich. I didn’t manage to spend as much time there as I would have liked, but I loved the city and the people that lived there, especially the river Isar!

I reflect warmly on the whole experience of my placement at IPP. There were definitely good bits along with bad bits, but generally I had a fantastic time and I met some great people whom I would love to collaborate with on further research in the future. I would strongly recommend anybody with a similar opportunity to take it, despite how daunting the prospect may seem at first.