PhD Course in Fusion Science and Engineering

The growing energy demand and the consequent big environmental, ethical and political issues, is driving a strong and growing expectation on fusion as a sustainable energy source. Fusion needs therefore to be a success, and Europe has a key role in this challenge. Europe has in fact the largest share (40%) in the ITER project, therefore the main responsibility to make it a success and to develop in parallel credible plans for proto-reactors (the so called DEMO devices).
As the start of ITER operation is approaching, and fusion is expected to be a growing field, an increasing number of fusion scientists will be needed, both physicists and engineers.

The main goal of this doctoral project is to improve the present educational system in the area of fusion. With this doctoral course we aim at providing the European community with new young scientists, capable to cope with the activities on physics and engineering necessary to realize next experiments (e.g. ITER, JT-60SA) the subsequent demonstrative reactor(s), DEMO(S), and, at the end, the commercial thermonuclear reactors.

This scientist should also have a background broad enough to be able to interact with companies and energy utility sector. High-tech companies will be in fact deeply involved in ITER construction and in subsequent fusion development. It is therefore extremely important that young researcher are trained on technological and industrial matters.

For this reason we have set up a Doctoral Network, among a group of European Universities which have a solid scientific and research background in the field of fusion science and engineering, linked with their respective national EURATOM Fusion Laboratories. In this way we exploit both the best scientific competences and skills from the university side and the best and more effective support from EURATOM Institutions, in particular as far as the availability of state-of-the-art experimental tools and devices is concerned.

  • University of Padua, Italy (coordinator)
  • University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy
  • Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST), Lisbon, Portugal
  • Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet (LMU), Munich, Germany
  • Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Tampere, Finland

In this context the programme aims at preparing doctoral graduates, able to give an original contribution to the development of thermonuclear fusion research in a highly interdisciplinary context, where the needed engineering and physics competences complement each other. The availability of the Fusion Laboratories in the network, which offer a wide range of specializations, will allow the candidates, together with the Academic Council, to tailor their own educational path and research activity, balancing competences both in engineering and in physics.

On the basis of this deep culture in the subject, of the proactive environment and of the daily research work in interdisciplinary teams, the graduates should be able to plan new experiments and design and implement the corresponding hardware. Moreover they should be prepared to interact with industry to design and realize key ITER and DEMO components. In this context particular attention will be paid to the problems connected to the design of the thermonuclear reactor.

  Main topics of the training and of the research experience

The PhD course addresses the subject of controlled thermonuclear fusion in magnetically confined plasmas. Both fusion science and technology topics are taught. The goal of controlled thermonuclear fusion is to bring on Earth the energy, which powers the Sun: an inexhaustible and environmentally sustainable source, to contribute to the solution of the world energy issue.
To reach this goal a number of problems need to be solved, both theoretically and experimentally. This course aim at giving its students the scientific and technological basis to became key players in this important research task.

The course covers 3 main areas:

  • Physics of Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion
  • Engineering of a Magnetically Confined Fusion Reactor
  • Experimental tools for diagnosing and controlling in real-time fusion relevant plasmas.

Students will be guided from the basics to state-of-the-art problems and solutions. Strong links with the European Fusion program and the ITER project are in place. To be a success and a key step in the achievement of fusion, ITER need a strong support from the scientific community and a large basis of scientists, who could build it and later exploit it. ITER will need a broad range of expertise, in physics and engineering, also on developing areas like material science and plasma control. This PhD course works in tight contact with ITER and aims at educating new generations of future ITER scientists. To this extent, the topics of the classes are selected among those mostly relevant.

The PhD course is supported by experimental activity in three important European devices:

  • ASDEX Upgrade (AUG) tokamak in Garching bei Muenchen, Germany
  • RFX-mod experiment in Padua, Italy
  • ISSTOK tokamak in Lisbon, Portugal

The course will use experiments and tools of these three devices for a modern, experiment based, education. The PhD course at University of Padua will in particular benefit from direct training experience in RFX-mod, which is one of the leading experiments in the world in the field of active feedback control of plasma stability.

  Info for applicants from the People’s Republic of China

Every academic year the Course, jointly with the China Scholarship Council (CSC), offers scholarships to candidates from the People’s Republic of China. Additional openings are available for candidates from the PRC through standard yearly selection procedures, held by the University of Padua.


  • Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche - CNR
  • Consorzio Rfx
  • Ente per le nuove tecnologie l'energia e l'ambiente  - ENEA
  • Erasmus Mundus Fusion DC
  • Max Planck Institut fur Plasmaphysik - IPP
  • Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli
  • Sofia University
  • The European Fusion Education network - FUSENET
  • Universidad Carlos  III de Madrid
  • Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio meridionale
  • Universiteit Gent

  School Board (Academic Council)

PhD coordinator: Paolo Bettini - University of Padova, Italy

Raffaele Albanese - University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy
Evgenia Benova - University of Sofia, Bulgaria
Tommaso Bolzonella - Consorzio RFX, Italy
Flavio Crisanti - ENEA, Italy
Davide De Salvador - University of Padova, Italy
Gianmaria De Tommasi - University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy
Alessandro Formisano - Second University of Naples (SUN), Italy
Leonardo Giudicotti  - University of Padova, Italy
Francesco Gnesotto  - University of Padova, Italy
Bruno Goncalves - Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST), Portugal
Lauri Kettunen - Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland
Harald Lesch  - Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet (LMU), Germany
Piero Martin - University of Padova, Italy
Emilio Martines - CNR, Italy
Jean-Marie Noterdaeme - University of Gent, Belgium
Alfredo Pironti  - University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy
Raul Sanchez - University of Madrid “Carlos III” (UC3M), Spain
Luis Silva - Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST), Portugal
Carlos Silva - Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST), Portugal
Piergiorgio Sonato - University of Padova, Italy
Fabio Villone - University of Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale, Italy
Hartmut Zohm - Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet (LMU), Germany

Ph.D. Course in Fusion Science and Engineering

Consorzio RFX
Corso Stati Uniti, 4 - 35127 Padova, Italy
Fiorella Colautti tel.+39 049 829 5891