One strategy

The research strategy of the laboratory was developed as part of the preparation for the evaluation of the laboratory.

The Physics of Ion and Molecular Interactions Laboratory (PIIM) is a joint research unit between the CNRS and Aix-Marseille University (UMR 7345). PIIM is, in the PACA region, a unique place where fundamental physics experiments can be carried out, and where modelling at the cutting edge of research in the physics of diluted media can be developed. This UMR brings together physicists and physical chemists who study dilute media such as gases and plasmas, and the interactions of these media with matter. The research teams that make up the laboratory are involved, each with a different weight, in the four axes that are Atoms, Ions and Molecules in all their states, Plasmas, Fusion Sciences and Tokamak Physics, Surfaces, Interfaces, Reactivity. Our research therefore naturally concerns several disciplines that we wish to continue to associate in order to develop original and high-quality fundamental research.

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Since 2006, the laboratory has seen a strong development of its equipment resources, thanks to the support of local authorities and the funding of several ANRs, in particular those that are managed by the laboratory. Funded in 2008, the ANR TADOTI (Dynamics and thermodynamics of trapped ions), is an interdisciplinary project that combines fundamental atomic physics with the properties of coulombic systems. This project is exemplary in our UMR, as it allows new collaborations between atomic physics, physics of the interaction between matter and radiation, and fundamental plasma physics.

The ANR CAMITER (Carbon and other materials for ITER), PHOTONITER (Spectroscopic study and control of magnetised plasmas), the 'finalised' project with the PACA region FORMICAT (formation and migration of carbon in tokamaks) have provided a set of study resources (financial aid in excess of one million euros) for the study of plasma-wall interaction, but also for the spectroscopic characterisation of the plasma on board tokamaks. It is remarkable that these projects are developed in close synergy between experiments and modelling, such as the quantum properties of particles on surfaces, or the radiative properties of plasmas.

Our partnership with other ANRs has helped other themes such as the study of nanoparticles in plasmas, or turbulent transport in fusion machines. This last theme has taken on an international dimension in our laboratory with the creation of the France-Japan international associated laboratory on the modelling and simulation of turbulent transport in ITER plasmas.

The application of our research to controlled thermonuclear fusion is clearly a major focus of the laboratory. It concerns tokamaks as a priority, with a well-developed collaboration with the European programme EURATOM and the CEA, and of course with the international organisation ITER, whose machine is being built on the Cadarache site. It should be noted that we also participate in other fusion research as we are members of the Laser Plasma Institute, and that we collaborate with the reversed field pinch in Padua. We are very active in the Magnetic Confinement Fusion Research Federation, with 12 projects funded in 2008, on the themes of the interaction of hot plasma with the walls, the control of turbulent plasma that must be confined in the core of these machines, and atomic physics and plasma diagnostics.

Initially motivated by a request for premises better suited to the development of our UMR, in 2006 we proposed a state-region project contract which provides for the restructuring of a building on the Saint Jérôme campus. With a title of research centre on the sciences of fusion, this building must make it possible to accommodate the UMR PIIM, but also the structures dependent on the PIIM and allowing collaborations on academic topics upstream of the research required by the ITER project. The university is currently proposing to create an international institute of fusion sciences, which should make it possible to welcome international scientists interested in the themes upstream of fusion for long-term stays.

It is the expertise acquired in these projects that allows us to participate in multiple activities of valorization within the framework of competitiveness clusters such as CAPENERGIE on the theme of energies that do not generate greenhouse gases, PHOTONIQUE on the themes of advanced lasers and the study of radiation in plasmas, and also the CARNOT STAR institute that groups together 10 laboratories in northern Marseille. It is also within this framework, and within that of the merger of Marseille's universities, that we are discussing the formation of a college of applied sciences.