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[en] First wall materials in controlled fusion devices undergo serious modification by several physical and chemical processes arising from plasma–wall interactions. Detailed information is required for the assessment of material lifetime and accumulation of hydrogen isotopes in wall materials. The intention of this work is to give a concise overview of key issues in the characterization of plasma-facing materials and components in tokamaks, especially in JET with an ITER-Like Wall. IBA techniques play a particularly prominent role here because of their isotope selectivity in the low-Z range (1–10), high sensitivity and combination of several methods in a single run. The role of "3He-based NRA, RBS (standard and micro-size beam) and HIERDA in fuel retention and material migration studies is presented. The use of tracer techniques with rare isotopes (e.g. "1"5N) or marker layers on wall diagnostic components is described. Special instrumentation, development of equipment to enhance research capabilities and issues in handling of contaminated materials are addressed.