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Zakaria Azdad - Internship at Basel University

Master Internship at Basel University
Report by Zakaria Azdad. Powered by FuseNet

Working on a topic related to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor named as (ITER) was always a a dream. To illustrate how important this was for me, let me guide you through my story.

The first time I heard about ITER, I was at my final year of my bachelor degree and during that time I was preparing my degree of physics. Being a student in Morocco with a low budget, travelling and working on a related subject was out of my reach. Instead, I have chosen to conduct a literature study on the fusion nuclear process and different fusion reactors (magnetic and inertial confinement). After finishing my bachelor degree in Morocco I conducted several researches in different groups across Europe but this time they were material science related topics. I graduated from Versailles University in Material, Technologies and Components with distinction and at the top of my class, but it was not enough. I saw the opportunity to work on First mirrors for ITER but for that, I needed to be enrolled as a master student. I could not resist to the offer so I decided to go for a second Master degree at Pierre and Marie Curie University of Paris. Already having a strong background in material science, I dedicated my free time to study my data and try to improve the performance of my material to be suitable to ITER application.

At the beginning, I did not know of the existence of the scholarship programme that FuseNet and EUROfusion provide to students. It was Dr. Larent Marot, my advisor, who told me about the programme. I first gathered the documents that it needed to fulfil the various criteria and with the support of my university and my host institute I had the chance to benefit from FuseNet support.

Working at Basel University

The work that I conducted in Prof. Ernst Meyer’s group at Basel University was focused on the study of the optical and electronic structure of ZrO2. The choice of Zirconia (ZrO2) was based on the optical properties and the high resistance to neutron bombardment that exhibit. These properties make ZrO2 an attractive material and could be applied as a protective coating. My research was dedicated to optimize the properties of ZrO2 thin film using pulsed DC and radio-frequency reactive magnetron sputtering in order to coat high reflective mirror’s such as (Al, Rh, Mo). We demonstrated that Ar bombardment with the presence of low concentration of oxygen does not harm the optical properties of the deposited ZrO2 film. Several characterizations were employed, some of them I already knew, others I dedicated a lot of my time to to learn about. It was a good experience, a lot of interaction with other people from different fields through conferences and workshops. This gave me a better insight of the challenges that ITER is facing and how scientists are working hard to overcome these challenges and make the fusion dream come true, a dream that humanity takes a new step toward the future, an infinite source of energy, a sun on earth.