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  • Felix Schleifer - IPP Summer University in Greifswald

IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion - Greifswald, Germany
Reported by Felix Schleifer. Powered by FuseNet.

My name is Felix Schleifer and in September 2016 I joined a group of almost 70 international students, including people from Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and at least 10 other countries around the globe, to visit the picturesque city of Greifswald in northern Germany. The reason for our visit was the annual IPP summer university that takes place by turns in Greifswald or in Garching, which both are home to the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.

The material challenge: finding suitable materials for fusion reactor walls

I am currently doing the last year of my education in material science and engineering at the university of Bayreuth in northern Bavaria. During my studies, we have covered a lot of applications for modern materials and processing technologies, but we have never discussed materials that are suitable as wall material inside fusion reactors. For me that was my main motivation to apply for this summer university, as I hoped to expand my knowledge and I wanted to take a look at topics that are not sufficiently covered by my studies.

On Sunday I arrived at the youth hostel late in the afternoon, where I met the guys that were going to be my room mates for the following five days. The next morning, after breakfast, we were picked up by a bus to be transferred to the Max-Planck institute for plasma physics. IPP is located right at the edge of Greifswald, which has around 57,000 inhabitants, inside a building that has a wavy shape and provides workspace for around 450 scientists, engineers and technicians. On arrival, we were greeted by the organizers, after which we immediately started with our first lecture.

27 hours of good-quality lectures

During the five days of the summer university, 18 lectures of 90 minutes were given of which most of them by scientists of IPP Greifswald or Garching. Some lectures, however, were given by lecturers from other (non-German) research facilities. Topics that were covered varied from very theoretical ones, such as transport inside the confined fusion plasma, to the more applied topics concerning the upcoming development of fusion power plants.

Each of the talks had a strong connection to fusion technology and together they gave a clear understanding of the relevant physics, the possibilities and the problems of possible fusion power plants, while also discussing the necessary steps that have yet to be taken on our way to make nuclear fusion possible as a power source for the future. Between the different talks, students, most of which were physicists close to finishing their master’s degrees, had sufficient time to discuss diverse topics with the lecturers.

Social events and a visit to Wendelstein 7-X

Besides the lectures, we also had the chance to visit the recently launched Wendelstein 7-X stellarator, since the W7-X facilities are also located at IPP Greifswald, which certainly was one of the highlights for the few engineers amongst us. Furthermore, we took part in the social events that were organized for us. The first evening, for instance, we had a reception meeting at the local university and on the last evening we were invited to attend dinner. On Wednesday we also made a trip to the island of Usedom where we visited the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum and the beach of Koserow.

I am very glad that I had the chance to be part of the IPP summer university 2016. The summer university was organized in a very professional manner and I felt very welcome from the first second. I have also gained a lot of knowledge about fusion research, which made me truly consider staying in this field. I am very thankful for this experience and  for the financial support of FuseNet.