Plasmas play a key role in nuclear fusion, plasma technology and ultra-short laser applications. The activities within HITEC cover all three areas. Fusion research aims at exploring a new primary energy for mankind. Fusion of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium by generating a high temperature plasma has the potential for an economic, reliable and environmentally friendly and virtually inexhaustible energy source. Low temperature plasmas are employed in many technology fields: semiconductor industry, micro machining, refining technical surfaces, specialized light sources or the switching of high currents. Relativistic plasmas being generated by ultra-short laser pulses open new fields of research: focused high energy particle beams can be generated or investigations of states of matter with relevance to astrophysics can be performed.
The institute divisions IEK-plasma physics and IEK-microstructure and properties of materials focus on fusion research with particular emphasis on plasma-wall interactions and research for materials under extreme conditions. Realizing here on earth the energy conversion process that powers the sun requires a highly complex technology, among which concepts for power exhaust on wall components play a crucial role. The magnetic confinement of high temperature plasmas in a tokamak is to date the most successful method. With the construction of ITER in Cadarache, France fusion research is on the verge of demonstrating for the first time an energy gain on the 500 MW level. Moreover, alternative confinement concepts with improved capabilities for steady state operations following the stellarator principle are being realized with the new experiment Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald, Germany. Plasma-wall interactions research in IEK-4 and IEK-2 support these projects.
The Institute of Laser and Plasma Physics operates ultra-short laser systems for various research topics: physics of ultra-intense laser interaction with matter, propagation of electron beams in overdense plasmas, laser-plasma dynamics in strong external magnetic fields and the generation of ultrashort keV X-ray pulses for structural investigations. The Institute of Laser and Plasma Physics in close partnership with the IEK- plasma physics of Forschungszentrum Jülich and financially supported by the DFG established a Research Training Group (GRK 1203) in the highly topical field of dynamics of hot plasmas that will provide education and research in high temperature plasma physics, both, in laser plasmas and magnetically confined fusion plasmas.
At the Institute for Experimental Physics V, Plasma and Atomic Physics, one research focus lies on low temperature plasmas with potential for technical applications which can be found in nearly every industrial branch: Plasma technology for biomedical applications, plasma process development and control, nano-particles and plasma driven light sources, new types of plasma sources (ICP, VHF, Jets), plasma treatment of plastics to enhance diffusion properties, plasma diagnostics and process monitoring, atmospheric micro plasmas. Another key aspect is the application and development of novel plasma diagnostic methods: such as laser spectroscopy (fluoresence-dip-spectroscopy, LIF, TALIF, Thomson-Scattering, IRLAS etc.), optical emission spectroscopy (OES, PROES), mass spectrometry, ion energy analysis, probe diagnostics.