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IPP Summer School for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research

Supported by FuseNet, Paul Stampfer, Christof Pichler, Borbála Szondy, Matteo Hakeem Kushoro, Mohsin Raza and Bjorn Lungberg attended the IPP Summer School in Greifswald, Northern Germany.


Paul Stampfer

My name is Paul Stampfer and I am in the middle of my physics master studies at the TU Graz in Austria. In the week from September 17. to September 21. I participated in the IPP Summer University in Greifswald in northern Germany. I applied for this summer university because I am very interested in the topics and I would like to deepen my knowledge in this field. Furthermore, I saw it as a chance to get to know other European physics students and to socialize with them.

After quite a long journey (Graz to Berlin via aeroplane and Berlin to Greifswald via bus) and one day in Greifswald on my own, the event started on Monday morning. The following days I listened to very interesting lectures held by experts in the appropriate fields. In the lectures the main mechanisms and concepts regarding plasma physics were presented and the concepts of possible fusion reactors (tokamak and stellarator) were introduced. We were also informed about the current limitations and barriers and the way to a fully working fusion reactor.

In addition to that, we were also able to take a look at the giant Wendelstein 7-X stellarator which is located in Greifswald. Another highlight was visiting the control room while measurement operation in the stellarator took place. By seeing the about 20 scientists in a room full of computers and hightech equipment controlling all the instruments and parameters of the stellarator and receiving the measurement data I got amazing impressions of the up-to-date research regarding fusion.

Of course, the summer school was not just about gathering information and knowledge, it also included lots of socializing with other master students. I got to know very nice people from all over Europe and I hope we will stay in touch. In the evenings we went out to have some drinks and entertainment. The excursion to the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum on the island of Usedom and the following trip to the beach were fantastic!

I am very grateful that I receive financial support for this event by FuseNet, it was a great experience.


Christof Pichler

On Monday the17th of September we started with the lecture Basics of Plasma Physics and Fusion incl. safety held by A. Dinklage. This helped us to get the basic information for further courses. After this introduction we played a game called Megawatts and Marbles that helped us to recognize today's use and need of electricity production. After lunch we listened to lectures on Magneto-Hydrodynamics, held by C. Nührenberg, and on Plasma Kinetics, held by R. Bilato, to get the theoretical knowledge we needed to understand the following lectures. After these two lectures we got a tour through the institute and to the W7-x fusion generator. Afterwards there was a little welcome reception to get to know each other.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we got lectures on such topics as transport (by P. Manas), lasma wall interactions (U. von Toussaint), diagnostics (M. Beurskens) and plasma heating (D. Hartmann), tokamak, equilibrium and stability (W. Suttrop) and experimental results of tokamaks (T. Pütterich). In the afternoon we went on an excursion to the island of Usedom to visit the historical technical museum of Peenemünde and took a break at the local beach. Afterwards we all ate lunch together sponsored by the IPP.

The day after consisted of lectures by R. Kleiber and T.S. Pedersen on a variety of stellarator topics. After lunch we made a discussion about what the IPP could do better at next year's Summer University and what we thought about the organization of the whole Summer University. Then we went to see the control room and we were able to talk to the scientists working there and saw what they were doing during the experiments. On Friday, H. Zohm told us a little bit about the ITER project and its goals. Afterwards he told us about the way to a fusion generator. This was the last lecture and then we left Greifswald.

In my opinion this was a great Summer University. We did not just learn a lot of theory about plasma physics and fusion, we also got to see  practical parts of the work at the IPP. There were a lot of other students from other countries, which was also quite nice. We got to know and talk to each other. Also, the youth hostel and the food were great there. So I have nothing to regret. It was just
a great experience.


Borbála Szondy

I am Borbála from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary. With the support of Fusenet, I had the opportunity to participate in the IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research and spend a wonderful week in Greifswald, Germany.

The lectures were genuinely interesting, and besides deepening my knowledge I could gain a great deal of new information about fusion. Each lecture, held by a specialist of the given subject, featured different aspects of fusion. The learning was facilitated by ensuring abundant amounts of time for questions which were indeed used up entirely together by at least 60 students attending the event. The lecturers gave satisfying and meaningful responses, they reacted to the emerging suggestions, fully explained everything they knew or provided guidance for further information. The coffee breaks were not only periods for recharging and being released from the room, but also perfect occasions for discussing what had been heard earlier. This positive and active attitude that I experienced there was rather unusual for me, but incredibly motivating.

First morning, we played a game called Megawatts and Marbles. To realize a good strategy and to find out how to install and operate a cheap and secure energy mix we had to think together. In the first game we failed several times, but we got used to the game rules and teamwork, and learned to cooperate and this way we were able to win in the end.

It is especially fortunate that Summer University was set up in Greifswald this year, because I could see a stellarator for the first time in my life. During the tour around W7-X and its related systems, we got a satisfactory explanation. On Thursday, we had a longer visit to the control room and we got a chance to ask researchers there about their projects and observe the workflow during shots. Wednesday was a memorable day, as we went to the island where we visited the Peenemünde Military Museum, which is also where the group photo was taken. After that we went to the beach where students could build sand castles, draw into the sand, play volleyball or chase jellyfish like little kids. After returning to the city, we were invited to a fine conference dinner by IPP. Many thanks to them for their conscientious organization.

Of course, life did not stop after the organized programs ended. Actually, we spent every night together with the other participants. In the neighborhood of the hotel we could play volleyball, pool, or boardgames. We walked a lot in this beautiful little town, or just chilled at the riverbank. Once around 30 of us followed one of the participants, who acted like a tourist guide, and had enormous fun during visiting the sights of the town. The size of the town made it possible to accidentally bump into each other in the main square. On the last night exactly that happened to several groups of participants which fused together forming a huge gang to find  a place where we couldall fit. All in all, it was a great experience, I learned plenty of interesting things, and I met fantastic people. Thanks for getting the chance to be part of this event.


Matteo Hakeem Kushoro

The summer university of the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik is a formative meet-up addressed to physicists and engeneers who work and study in the fusion plasma area. The 2018 edition took place in Greifswald, Germany, at the IPP site which houses the biggest stellarator-based plasma research machine in Europe: the Wendelstein 7-X.

Being in the heart of the countryside of the former DDR, Greisfwald is not the simplest place to reach: both the nearest airport in Hamburg and Stettin are not well connected to the region, and the best option is to reach it by train, after landing in Berlin, 3h 30m apart. Still, the journey was worth it: after providing a very warm accomodation, together with hospitality at the Greifswald youth Hostel, the organizers offered us guests (we were more than 60 bachelor and master students from all ober Europe - some from even further abroad, such as Bangladesh) a very insightful and complete overview of the structure, the activities and the results accomplished at IPP Greifswald. After a couple of days of super-intensive lectures with the aim of summarazing the basic theory behind plasma physics and MHD (maybe even too intensive, according to the audience) we were introduced to the IPP structure, touring the control room, the gyrotron machines for plasma heating and the chamber of the W7-X itself - along with the chance to interact with many staff and PhD working at the site.

The achievement which I appreciated the most was knowing people. I had the chance to meet dozens of PhDs and researchers to ask for many questions (tons of them, actually; from the most elaborate technical ones to the most basic and “personal” everyday curiosities). But also the chance of meeting with fellow students from all over Europe: I never met so many as 60 students involved in the very same area of study in which I am – fusion research. I fully capitalized on this, asking for the contact information of many willing researchers and keeping in touch with all the colleagues. I genuinely believe in the power of such meetings, which are both inspiring and socially profitable, and I’m happy that many organisations - most importantly FuseNet – provide resources and funding for these kinds of purpuses. I feel like that this is one great step in the formation of the next generation of plasma and fusion physicists - and I’m proud being part of it.


Mohsin Raza

My name is Mohsin Raza, I am doing my Masters in Applied and Engineering Physics from Technical University of Munich, Germany. From 17, September 2018 to 21, September 2018, I have attended IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics at Greifswald; which houses the biggest Stellarator-based plasma research machine in Europe, “Wendelstein 7-X”.

On Monday morning, the university started with an Introduction lecture about basics of plasma physics and nuclear fusion and then we dived straight into advanced lecture series. The lectures have covered, such as kinetic and magneto-hydrodynamic description of a plasma, concepts and experimental results of tokamak and stellarator configurations, plasma heating and diagnostics, plasma-wall interaction and materials research, ITER and discussed all the issues that we must have to face in order to achieve energy gain by fusion. The Professors briefly discussed the plasma confinement in both configurations; Tokamak and Stellarators, respectively. All in all, we received a solid foundation in plasma theory, and discussed its possible application for future energy generation. As for me, most of the talks was very informative and inspiring.

Some Ph.D. guys accompanied us on a tour to “Wendelstein 7-X” chamber (where we have witnessed the whole configuration of the Stellarator) and gyrotron machines for plasma heating. It was an astounding experience for me to see more than 100 plasma scientists and engineers working under a roof in the control room of “Wendelstein 7-X”. Now I believe that science is a tool for bringing people together and that cooperation is essential to achieve the best results.

For me, the best part of this summer university was that I had not just only gained a lot of knowledge but also get acquitted with many peoples from different part of the world. The organizers of summer university brought all the participants together in an informal atmosphere, and leading to a stimulating exchange of views, experiences, ideas, and useful suggestions. The social program included a dinner at a hotel, and an excursion to Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, where we learned a lot about some unforgettable events in history.

Being a part of IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire academic career. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the organizers of the summer university for the unforgettable experience and to FuseNet for providing me with the financial support that enabled me to attend this summer university.


Bjorn Lungberg

The IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research was a great way for a master's student to get in touch with the field of fusion research. Students from all over Europe gathered at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald in Germany to get a glimpse of the world of plasma physics. We were given lectures by researchers at the institute in many different topics, such as basic plasma physics, kinetic theory, MHD, RF heating, and NBI heating. Perhaps even more interesting were the lectures on the future of fusion. Especially the lecture on ITER and DEMO was very inspiring and insightful.

We also had the opportunity to see the experiment W7X as well as the control room, which was quite different from what I was used to, since my home university only has a small RFP, and not nearly the same number of employed researchers and engineers. It made me glad to see that there are great opportunities to make a career in fusion research not so far from my home country. This makes me confident in my choice to pursue a PhD in the field, and I hope this career will take me back to Greifswald one day.

However, as we all know, classes are not everything, and I really appreciated the opportunity to meet the other students and explore the city and its surroundings together with them, renting bikes to go and watch the sunset at the Baltic sea, or having a few pints at the main square with newfound friends.