The development of materials that are capable of sustaining the harsh environment inside a fusion reactor is one of the most challenging tasks faced by fusion research (see, for instance, FN December 2008). Understanding the mechanisms which act on the materials and components in a fusion environment, requires considerable efforts in basic materials science, characterisation and modelling. The most sophisticated and advanced material characterisation methods must be applied to quantitatively elucidate the structure of materials (from the nano to the composite level) and the respective damages. In order to fully exploit the capabilities of these techniques, intense collaboration between fusion material research and highly specialised material science experts and their facilities must be established.

The FP7 coordination action “FEMaS – Fusion Energy Materials Science” addresses this issue. The project started in October in 2008 and will run for 36 months. It is designed to merge the knowledge about fusion material requirements and top-level material characterisation techniques. Collaborative activities are stimulated in various fields: benchmarking experiments for radiation damage modelling, the application of micro-mechanical characterization methods, synchrotron and neutron radiation- based technologies and advanced nanoscopic analysis based on transmission electron microscopy. Their focus lies in the development of materials for oxide-dispersion-strengthened steels, tungsten-based materials and fusionrelevant coatings.

A major concern of FEMaS is the integration of large-scale facilities into the fusion materials research program. Associated activities are performed at the synchrotron light sources HZB-BESSY II in Berlin, at the European Synchrotron Facility ESRF in Grenoble, at the neutron source FRM-II in Garching, and at the multi-ion beam accelerator facility JANNuS in Saclay. Several collaborations involve top-level electron microscopes in Europe. High heat flux facilities available at FEMaS partners are involved in material loading tests. Finally, highly-advanced micro-mechanical testing is developed and shared within the consortium. The collaborative activities between the 27 FEMaS partners are mainly carried out during bilateral training events. During an initial workshop in January 2009, the project partners from the fusion materials community communicated their specific material needs, whereby the experts from the materials characterisation community demonstrated the capabilities of their respective techniques. More than 65 new collaborations emerged as a result of this workshop, and the results were reported during a second workshop which took place in January 2010. In May 2011, an international FEMaS conference will be jointly organised with the “Workshop on Plasma-Facing Materials and Components” in order to finalise the integration of the partners from large-scale facilities into the fusion materials science community. It is planned that the newly established collaborations will be sustained by integrating activities into the EFDA Materials Science topical group and Plasma-Wall Interaction task force after FEMaS comes to an end.

More information:

Christian Linsmeier, FEMaS