Nuclear Fusion Experiment Made Something Very Strange Happen

During a recent study in the field of nuclear fusion, charged atoms, which are also known as ions, have been observed to behave strangely during nuclear fusion reactions in ways that scientists did not expect.

  • NEWSWEEK – According to a paper published on November 14 in the journal Nature Physics, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory discovered that when deuterium and tritium ions, which are isotopes of hydrogen with one and two neutrons, respectively—are heated using lasers during laser-fusion experiments, there are more ions with higher energies than expected when a thermonuclear burn starts.
  • NEWS ATLAS – Scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) have been pursuing nuclear fusion since 2009, using an array of 192 lasers to shoot high-energy pulses at a fuel capsule around the size of a ball bearing. This pellet of fuel is made up of deuterium and tritium, and obliterating it with sudden and intense heat causes the separate atoms to fuse into helium, releasing tremendous amounts of energy in the process.
  • PHYS.ORG – Scientists around the world have been trying for many years to replicate the fusion reactions that occur in the sun—this could provide humanity a nearly limitless source of energy. Such work has been step-by-step, with researchers tweaking reactors in search of the right combination of factors to produce more energy than is used to run the reactor.
  • CNET – “This looks like something that we’re starting to get within striking distance,” said Andrew Sowder, a senior technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute, an energy research and development nonprofit. “What we have seen is something going from just a strictly national lab, government-sponsored effort to the private sector, driven by deadlines and with real innovation.”