PhD Position or Postdoc Position – Integration of Effects of Neutron Irradiation on Material Properties into a FEM Virtual Tokamak Reactor framework

Jülich Research Centre (FZJ)

Jülich, Germany

Work group:

IEK-4 – Plasmaphysik

Area of research:

Scientific / postdoctoral posts,PHD Thesis

Job description:

The Institute of Energy and Climate Research IEK-4, Plasma Physics, conducts a research and development programme to selected questions of high-temperature plasma physics and of material research for thermonuclear fusion devices. This work is carried out in the frame of the national fusion programme of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, of the EUROfusion Consortium and of the European F4E Agency (Fusion for Energy). In the field of fusion technology, the institute supports the construction of ITER and W7-X in a project-oriented manner. The corresponding tasks aim at establishing the prerequisites for a burning fusion plasma, to gain a new primary source of energy.

Job Description:

One of the central objectives of the Materials Project (WPMAT) is the development and evaluation of design criteria and rules, from concept to validation, as well as design methodologies (and analyses) for the assessment of lifetime and failure of in-vessel components, taking into account the expected effects of radiation damage and changes in the mechanical and physical properties (for example thermal conductivity and changes in chemical composition due to transmutation) of materials resulting from their exposure to fusion neutrons. WPMAT activities are fundamentally linked to design studies performed within the framework of in-vessel components.

Recent developments in the simulation methodology showed how to relate the accumulation of defects and the resulting microstructural changes to strains and stresses developing in materials due to irradiation, and how to include these effects in the Finite Element Method simulation framework. This encourages for a next step in the simulation methodology and to develop an approach where a tokamak reactor design is evaluated, in an integrated system, over its entire lifetime. The approach involves the analysis of rates of accumulation of radiation defects in various parts of the reactor structure, taking into account the changes of microstructure due to the accumulation of defects, and changes in chemical composition and thermal conductivity resulting from the exposure to neutrons, which in turn define self-consistently the temperature and stress fields developing in the reactor components. The model is expected to apply not only to the steady state operating conditions but also to study transient events.

The new approach is expected to help extend, adapt for fusion environment and validate design criteria based on experience and experimental data, to the fully digital framework, making full use of the data derived from the recent and on-going experiments on neutron irradiation of candidate materials (RAFM-steels, Cu-alloys, tungsten-based materials). In addition to the new experimental information, the project is expected to make full use of the conceptual and algorithmic advances made in microstructural damage modelling pursued in the framework of a subproject devoted to computational analysis of irradiation effects (IREMEV). The main aim is to establish an integrated link between microstructure and continuum level models to qualify and quantify irradiation effects on the scale of the entire reactor components, and possibly the entire reactor structure.

The selected candidate is expected to focus her/his research on the following areas:

  • Multi-scale modelling of physical processes determining the response of materials to thermal and irradiation conditions.

  • Mechanical and microstructural changes resulting from the accumulation of defects and dislocations in fusion reactor components.

  • Understanding macroscopic failure mechanisms and their effect on the component lifetime.

  • Interrelation between microstructural damage and macroscopic material properties.

  • Engineering rules and design codes that use information derived from experiments on neutron irradiated materials.

Note: This position is in support of a collaboration between the EUROfusion Project WPMAT and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, to assist progress in the development of design of a fusion power plant. It is expected that a mission to UCLA should be included in the Training Program for this appointment.


Master degree or PhD in materials sciences or an engineering discipline.


Application Process:

Please find all information about the application process by using the Guide for Applicants.

Proposals shall be submitted via email to no later than midnight of 6 September 2019. The candidates are expected to be available for the interview to be held in Garching during the week of 25 – 29 November 2019. Should you have any questions about the application process, please contact or If you have any further questions regarding the vacancy, please contact Dr. Gerald Pintsuk (g.pintsuk@fz-juelich).

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Quote Reference: EEG-2020/29