Author: Ralph P. Schorn

In November 2006 it was 50 years ago that work on high temperature plasma physics and nuclear fusion first started at the Rheinisch- Westfälische Technische Hochschule (Technical University) of Aachen. Inspired by first results abroad, a group lead by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Fucks and Dr. Hermann L. Jordan first focussed on z- and thetapinch experiments. After the foundation of the Nuclear Research Establishment (KFA), the group joined immediately and moved to a new campus near Jülich in 1960 adopting the name “Institute for Plasma Physics“ (IPP). In 1962, Jülich became an EURATOM Association.

Pioneering work on the understanding of collisionless high-beta plasmas in theta pinch devices and the development of fusion related technologies – such as high voltage capacitors and switches – dominated the first twenty years: In 1971 an ion temperature of 100 million degrees was produced for the first time ever world wide, using a new high voltage theta pinch experiment. In 1972, toroidal geometries, non-circular cross sections and the successful tokamak principle moved into the focus. Jülich too entered the field of tokamak physics and started the design and construction work for TEXTOR. From the beginning, TEXTOR was especially designed to provide flexible and easy access to wall components and diagnostic systems.

Since its inauguration in November 1982, TEXTOR stands for pioneering work in various fields: Carbonisation, boronisation, radiation cooling, toroidal pump limiters (ALT, helium exhaust), the RI mode, modelling and measurement of erosion and deposition processes, new diagnostic methods for edge plasma studies, material test and development and also the present Dynamic Ergodic Divertor (DED) and its ability to influence turbulence at the plasma edge.

Today Jülich fusion research is an integral part of the European strategy towards a fusion power plant, focussing on plasma- wall interaction studies. On December 19th, 2006, more than 250 guests, former colleagues and active staff – among them many former institute directors – came together to commemorate and – most of all – celebrate 50 successful years of fusion research – with a bright future ahead.

A detailed chronicle of IPP Jülich is available at