Klaus Pinkau has played a decisive role in shaping international fusion research. After training as a reproduction photographer, he studied mathematics and physics in Tübingen, Hamburg and Bristol and developed a method for measuring the energy of gamma rays. In addition, he conducted research on high-energy nuclear interactions and in elementary particle physics.
At the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, he established the research branch of high-energy astronomy. COS-B, supervised here, became one of the most successful satellites of the European space program, providing the first celestial map of the Milky Way in the light of cosmic gamma rays . Fusion facilities became a topic for Pinkau at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.
His honors include honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bristol and Greifswald, Pinkau is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, received the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art and the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class.