AMPERE - Advanced Materials for Plasma-Exposed Robust Electrodes

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Los Angeles, California
Project Term:
02/24/2021 - 08/23/2023

Critical Need:

For more than 60 years, fusion research and development (R&D) has focused on attaining the required fuel density, temperature, and energy confinement time of the plasma fuel of a viable fusion energy system. Currently, relatively modest investments have been made in the required and equally critical enabling technologies and advanced materials surrounding the plasma fuel. The GAMOW program supports innovative R&D that will help establish both the technical and commercial viability of (i) all the required technologies and subsystems between the fusion plasma and the balance of plant, (ii) cost-effective, high-efficiency, high-duty-cycle driver technologies, and (iii) novel fusion materials and advanced manufacturing of these materials.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Many lower-cost fusion concepts require high-performance, long-life electrodes for plasma generation, sustainment, and refueling. Due to the plasma and high-current-density environments needed for fusion, electrodes can erode quickly, which contaminates and cools the plasma, leading to increased maintenance costs. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has recently explored a new class of plasma-robust materials inspired by reticulated foams and enabled by advanced manufacturing, with the potential to significantly reduce electrode erosion, allowing for five times greater electrode life and reduced plasma contamination. In the Advanced Materials for Plasma-Exposed Robust Electrodes (AMPERE) project, UCLA will first demonstrate that the new electrodes are “plasma-favorable,” meaning they will not contaminate the plasma needed to generate fusion power. Second, UCLA will characterize and model the electrode performance for durability and longevity, aiming to undertake specific electrode designs for fusion experiments by this project’s conclusion. The benefits provided by these electrode materials will ultimately lead to more durable and practical fusion devices that operate more efficiently and at a much lower cost.

Potential Impact:

Successful development of fusion energy science and technology could lead to a safe, carbon-free, abundant energy source for developed and emerging economies.


The GAMOW program will advance American leadership in fusion energy science and technology.


If successfully developed and commercialized, fusion energy can provide abundant, zero-carbon energy.


Advances in GAMOW’s technical areas will help accelerate progress toward commercial fusion energy and a new zero-carbon energy economy.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ahmed Diallo
Project Contact:
Prof. Richard Wirz
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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