The Institute was established as Laboratorio di Fisica del Plasma ed
Elettronica Quantistica in 1970 under the Direction of Prof. Piero Caldirola,
with two separate sections: the plasma physics section at the University of
Milan and the Quantum electronics section at the Politecnico (School of
Engineering) of Milan. The esperimental activity of the plasma section was
mainly oriented toward studies of ionized gas discharges while the
theoretical studies were focussed on problems of radio wave propagation in
the ionosphere and of experiments interpretation.
Later in 1975, the two sections split and the plasma section kept the name
of Laboratorio di Fisica del Plasma. In 1976, the European scientific
collaboration started in the frame of the EURATOM-CNR Association,
established together with the Istituto Gas Ionizzati of Padua. Within this
association the tokamak THOR was built and operated from 1978 to 1989 with
an auxiliary RF power system at 28 Ghz for electron heating by ECW waves.
These experiments were financed under "preferential support" by Euratom.
In 1979 the Laboratory was named Istituto di Fisica del Plasma. In 1985 the
EURATOM-ENEA-CNR Association was established, unifying the relations with
Euratom of all Italian institutes doing research on thermonuclear fusion
(contracts 202/85/FUAI; 343/88/FUAI, and present contract 01.01.88-31.12.98).
The experience gained on the THOR tokamak has allowed the Institute to design,
construct, and operate scientifically and technically the electron heating
experiment with radiofrequency power at 140 Ghz on the plasma of the FTU
tokamak of C.R.E. ENEA in Frascati, under Euratom "preferential support".
In the frame of the CNR reorganization, on 15/10/2001 the Institute is
confirmed as Istituto di Fisica del Plasma "Piero Caldirola" (IFP).
Presently, IFP staff amounts to 20 Researchers/Technologists, 10 technicians,
5 administrative and secretarial persons, 8 contractors/fellowship and 7
The mission of the Institute, grown in thirty years of activity performed in
close contact with international institutions and within the Euratom research
framework, is scientific and technological research in the field of
laboratory plasma physics, with particular focus on the interaction of
electromagnetic waves with plasmas. IFP organization is historically along
three functional lines with continuous and important internal collaborations.
The first experimental line is dedicated to carrying out experiments with
high power millimiter waves for applications in the domain of thermonuclear
fusion research and for the development of radiofrequency technologies, both
at high power and at signal level for diagnostic systems. The second
functional line of applied research is dedicated to the physical-chemical
study of plasma-materials interaction, oriented toward the development of
processes of material treatment both for molecular dissociation of toxic
substances and for the modification of surface properties. Furthermore
physical-chemical analysis of first wall material of fusion experimental
devices is performed using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques as X-ray
Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Atomic Emission Spectrometry (AES), Imaging
Science Subsystem (ISS), Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED), Secondary
Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS). The third research line includes the development
of plasma theory, concerning fundamental and applied problems, in particular
electromagnetic wave interaction with plasmas, the physics of tokamaks and
thermonuclear fusion, and the theoretical modelling and interpretation of
national and international experiments on fusion. The theoretical studies
are performed both using the classical analytical methods of physics and
mathematical investigations, and the development of numerical codes suitable
for the complex modelling of the processes under study and interpretation of
the signals measured. Presently, IFP is equipped with advanced numerical
codes for the study of propagation, absorption and scattering of gaussian
beams of high frequency electromagnetic waves, new and accurate Vlasov and
Fokker-Planck codes, fluid type codes for modelling heat and particle
transport in tokamaks, and finally other codes developed for electromagnetic
emission analysis and for some magnetohydrodynamic stability problem.
Training of IFP staff, as well as of university and PhD students, is pursued
continuously with close national and international collaboration with
scientific institutions, and universities.
IFP has organized or collaborated to the scientific organization of several
workshops and international conferences on the physics of laboratory and
astrophysical plasmas, often together with the International School of
Plasma Physics and the Associazione Italiana Vuoto.
The main items of the scientific activity are briefly listed below.
Experimental research on the Plasma interaction with electron cyclotron waves
and related technologies:
1. ECRH experiments on FTU;
2. R&D in the Millimiter Wave Laboratory;
3. participation to international ECRH projects and experiments;
4. participation to the Planck-LFI project.
Plasma and thermonuclear fusion technologies:
1. plasma induced modification of surface functional properties;
2. destruction of organic toxical waste;
3. ion species separation in a plasma by means of RF ponderomotive forces;
4. instrument development for material surface analysis.
Theory of Plasma and of thermonuclear fusion:
1. physics of wave plasma interaction in fusion devices;
2. transport and MHD studies for tokamaks;
3. general plasma theory;
4. fusion Diagnostics Studies.
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