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Research and innovation
News article21 September 2020Directorate-General for Research and Innovation2 min read

Fusion research and innovation: three researchers awarded

Today, the European Commission revealed the winners of the 2020 edition of the SOFT Innovation Prize. This prize, awarded at the 31st Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT2020), gives recognition to outstanding researchers or industries who have found innovative ideas or proposed new solutions in fusion research.

This year’s winners of the SOFT Innovation Prize are:

  • First prize (€50 000): Dr. Fabio Di Fonzo, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), for the development of Ductile Amorphous Ceramics for Extreme Environments. Materials used in fusion research have to resist extreme radiation, high temperatures and highly corrosive environments. Ductile Amorphous Ceramics coatings could be the potential key to the longer performance of the materials used in both fission and fusion.
  • Second prize (€25 000): Dr. Pavel Vladimirov, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), for the development of advanced solid neutron multiplier in support of innovative tritium-breeding blanket design. Future nuclear fusion reactors consuming tritium and deuterium should produce their fuel by themselves. The production of fuel shall be facilitated by neutron multiplier, which is an essential part of tritium-breeding blanket.
  • Third prize (€12 500): Dr. Alexander von Müller, Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik (IPP), for the development of tungsten fibre-reinforced copper as advanced heat sink material for high heat flux applications. This solution is highly relevant for the development of other future fusion devices and might also be relevant for other high-temperature applications outside of the nuclear sector due to the outstanding material property combinations.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, congratulated the winners and said:

Fusion researchers are constantly challenging the current limits of scientific knowledge and creating conditions for innovation. This year’s winners of the SOFT Innovation Prize are a testament to that. Supporting future technologies as well as staying at the cutting edge of scientific frontiers is vital to keep Europe competitive and to create new spin-offs and highly skilled jobs.

The future of research and innovation in Europe and beyond is also what will be showcased and debated at the European Research and Innovation Days that will take place, for the first time virtually, on 22 to 24 September. Research and innovation is key in our transitions to sustainable, inclusive and resilient post-corona societies.

Fusion research and innovation can play an important part in these transitions.Fusion powers the sun and all the stars of the universe. Harnessing fusion power on Earth would provide sustainable energy on an almost limitless scale, to supply the needs of a growing world population. Fusion presents an excellent long-term opportunity for the world to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.


The SOFT Innovation Prize aims to stimulate the research community to strengthen innovation and foster an entrepreneurial culture in fusion research. In 2020, the European Commission received 13 proposals that were evaluated by an independent jury composed of experts in technology transfer from business and academia. The jury assessed the proposals based on originality and replicability, technical excellence, and economic impact, exploitation and plans for further development.


Publication date
21 September 2020
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation