Lasers are used to crush pellets of hydrogen to
the point of fusion inside a target chamber at NIF.


Laser fusion put on slow burn

The US National Ignition Facility rethinks its strategy on achieving thermonuclear fusion in the lab, but fails to silence critics.

Geoff Brumfiel
11 December 2012

Following the failure of an ambitious six-year campaign to demonstrate fusion in the lab, the US government is plotting a more methodical path for harnessing the world’s most powerful laser.

The government’s new plan, revealed to Nature, calls for a slower, more deliberate approach to achieving ignition: the point at which more energy is produced by a fusion reaction than is consumed. Many physicists believe that this would be an important proof of concept for controlled fusion.

The plan sets a new course for the laser at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. It also promotes the exploration of several alternative ways to reach ignition, including one not involving the laser. And it is more tentative than the previous strategy: it sets a three-year deadline for finding out whether ignition is possible at all, whereas the last one aimed to demonstrate actual fusion.

Read more: Laser fusion put on slow burn : Nature News & Comment.

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