Laser Facility Blasts Way to Fusion First
Fusion experiment is at least ten times more powerful than previous events, study says.
The report from the U.S. Department of Energy's $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore (California) National Laboratory comes after a decade of disappointments. (See: "Fusion Energy Quest Faces Boundaries of Budget, Science.")
The report offers encouragement to long-frustrated efforts to harness fusion, which provides the punch in hydrogen bombs, as a plentiful source of pollution-free nuclear energy.
In the new experiments reported in the journal Nature by a team led by LLNL physicist Omar Hurricane, 192 high-powered lasers were fired at a gold-plated, hollow pill called a hohlraum. The hohlraum was coated on its inside wall with a tiny bit of frozen H-bomb fuel—a mix of heavy hydrogen isotopes isolated from seawater.