Return to home page for

Tokamak Discoveries, 'Firsts' and 'Onlys'

Not primarily intended for the non-technical audience!  Notable discoveries include:

Phenomenon Discovered Discovered at . . . Date
First tokamak TMP, USSR (Sometimes known incorrectly as TMB.) 1954
First tokamak operating outside the Soviet Union LT-1 (later converted to LT-2 and 3), Australia 1964
First use of a metallic liner inside the torus T-1, USSR 1958 (approx.)
First tokamak to demonstrate plasma disruptions TM-3, USSR 1963
First full carbon first wall TM-3, USSR 1963
First tokamak to study runaway electrons systematically LT-3, Australia 1960s
Identification of magnetic islands (although this terminology was not used at the time). TM-2, USSR 1966
First machine to produce 'significant' neutrons. TM-3, USSR 1971
First injection of frozen fuel pellets Ormak, USA 1972 (approx.)
First tokamak where NBI heating exceeded ohmic heating Ormak, USA 1972 (approx.)
Discovery of ion-ion hybrid resonance scenarios TM-1VCh 1973 (approx.)
First demonstration of feedback control of plasma position using variable vertical magnetic field. TO-1, USSR or
1973 (approx.)
First use of a poloidal divertor JFT-2a (DIVA), Japan 1975 (approx.)
First demonstration of impurity control using a divertor JFT-2a, Japan 1975 (approx.)
First machine designed to use Lower Hybrid waves as a current drive mechanism. Versator II, USA 1977
First use of Nb3Sn superconductor on a tokamak TRIAM-1M, Japan 1978 (approx.)
First neutral beam heating CLEO, UK 1970s (approx.)
First tokamak to use superconducting coils (TF only) T-7, USSR 1970s
Development of the Hugill Diagram DITE, UK Late 1970s
First observation of RF-driven current using the Lower-Hybrid Wave JFT-2, Japan 1980
First demonstration of a beta limit (before theory predicted it) ISX-B, USA 1980 (approx.)
First observation of fishbone instability PDX, USA 1980 (approx.)
First use of beryllium as a plasma facing material, reducing Zeff by a factor of two. UNITOR, Germany 1982
Development of Boronisation (with di-borane) as a vessel conditioning system TEXTOR, Germany 1980s
First experimental observation of ballooning modes TFTR, USA 1980s (approx.)
First experimental observation of kinetic Alfvén wave - an important validation of kinetic theory. TCA, Switzerland 1980s (approx.)
First demonstration of H-mode ASDEX, Germany 1982
First current drive from breakdown by LH PLT, USA 1985
Discovery of boot-strap current TFTR, USA 1986
First observation of ‘monster’ sawteeth, stabilised by fast ions JET, EU 1986
First 'stable AC operation' of a tokamak STOR-1M 1987
First observation of the 'snake' (an m=1 density perturbation seen by the soft X-ray cameras following pellet injection). JET, EU 1988
First use of saddle coils to simulate error fields COMPASS-D, UK 1989
First machine capable of studying synergy between ECRH and LH FTU, Italy 1990
First D-T plasma, (using trace quantities of tritium) JET, EU 1991
First magnetic fusion experiment to use fusion power plant fuel mixture of 50% deuterium (D) and 50% tritium (T) TFTR, USA 1993
First demonstration of radio frequency heating of a D-T plasma using second harmonic tritium resonance TFTR, USA 1994
First experimental observation of the "enhanced reversed shear" confinment mode TFTR, USA 1994
First production of Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) in high beta H-mode plasmas JT-60, Japan 1994
First observation of neoclassical tearing modes TFTR, USA 1995
First unambiguous measurements of self-heating by alpha particles in a DT fusion plasma TFTR, USA 1995
First machine to operate in multi-cylce flat top mode ISTTOK, Portugal 1990s (approx.)
First fully remote exchange of complete divertor JET, EU 1998
First fully superconducting tokamak (TF and all PF coils) EAST, China 2006
First observation of 3D feature geodesic acoustic mode (GAM) zonal flows. HL-2A, China 2006
100% bootstrap current achieved. TCV, Switzerland 2006
Only machine capable of adjusting TF ripple JET, EU Present day
Only tritium compatible tokamak today JET, EU Present day
Only tokamak capable of achieving negative triangularity. TCV, Switzerland Present day
Only tokamak to be capable of AC operation on a regular basis ISTTOK, Portugal Present day

If you would like to suggest another notable discovery to add to this table, please contact me with evidence to support your claim.


Validated by HTML Validator (based on Tidy)