The development of plasma facing components for next step fusion devices in Europe is strongly focused to ITER. Here a wide spectrum of different design options for the divertor target and the first wall have been investigated with tungsten, CFC, and beryllium armor. Electron beam simulation experiments have been used to determine the performance of high heat flux components under ITER specific thermal loads. Beside thermal fatigue loads with power density levels up to 20 MWm-2, off-normal events are a serious concern for the lifetime of plasma facing components. These phenomena are expected to occur on a time scale of a few milliseconds (plasma disruptions) or several hundred milliseconds (vertical displacement events) and have been identified as a major source for the production of neutron activated metallic or tritium enriched carbon dust which is of serious importance from a safety point of view.

The irradiation induced material degradation is another critical concern for future D-T-burning fusion devices. In ITER the integrated neutron fluence to the first wall and the divertor armour will remain in the order of 1 dpa and 0.7 dpa, respectively. This value is low compared to future commercial fusion reactors; nevertheless, a nonnegligible degradation of the materials has been detected, both for mechanical and thermal properties, in particular for the thermal conductivity of carbon based materials. Beside the degradation of individual material properties, the high heat flux performance of actively cooled plasma facing components has been investigated under ITER specific thermal and neutron loads.