Insight


Nature Physics Insight – Nuclear Fusion


Harnessing the energy produced in nuclear fusion reactions is an ongoing grand challenge. This Insight focuses on the achievements made so far and the trials ahead, highlighting that at the core of nuclear fusion lies some fascinating physics.

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Editorial

Nuclear fusion p383

Bart Verberck and Andrea Taroni

doi:10.1038/nphys3771


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Commentary

The quest for fusion power pp384 – 386

Steven C. Cowley

doi:10.1038/nphys3719

Fusion power is one of a very few sustainable options to replace fossil fuels as the world's primary energy source. Although the conditions for fusion have been reached, much remains to be done to turn scientific success into commercial electrical power.

Applied and fundamental aspects of fusion science pp386 – 390

Alexander V. Melnikov

doi:10.1038/nphys3759

Fusion research is driven by the applied goal of energy production from fusion reactions. There is, however, a wealth of fundamental physics to be discovered and studied along the way. This Commentary discusses selected developments in diagnostics and present-day research topics in high-temperature plasma physics.

Remote-handling challenges in fusion research and beyond pp391 – 393

Rob Buckingham and Antony Loving

doi:10.1038/nphys3755

Energy-producing nuclear fusion reactions taking place in tokamaks cause radiation damage and radioactivity. Remote-handling technology for repairing and replacing in-vessel components has evolved enormously over the past two decades – and is now being deployed elsewhere too.


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Thesis

Everything is plasma pp394

Mark Buchanan

doi:10.1038/nphys3756


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Interview

Building the way to fusion energy pp395 – 397

doi:10.1038/nphys3752


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Reviews

Magnetic-confinement fusion pp398 – 410

J. Ongena, R. Koch, R. Wolf and H. Zohm

doi:10.1038/nphys3745

One way of realizing controlled nuclear fusion reactions for the production of energy involves confining a hot plasma in a magnetic field. Here, the physics of magnetic-confinement fusion is reviewed, focusing on the tokamak and stellarator concepts.

Computational challenges in magnetic-confinement fusion physics pp411 – 423

A. Fasoli, S. Brunner, W. A. Cooper, J. P. Graves, P. Ricci, O. Sauter and L. Villard

doi:10.1038/nphys3744

Simulating magnetically confined fusion plasmas is crucial for their understanding and control. This review discusses the state of the art and the multi-physics involved: electromagnetism and hydrodynamics combined over vast temporal-spatial ranges.

Materials research for fusion pp424 – 434

J. Knaster, A. Moeslang and T. Muroga

doi:10.1038/nphys3735

For achieving proper safety and efficiency of future fusion power plants, low-activation materials able to withstand the extreme fusion conditions are needed. Here, a review of the irradiation physics at play and fusion materials research is given.

Inertial-confinement fusion with lasers pp435 – 448

R. Betti and O. A. Hurricane

doi:10.1038/nphys3736

The quest for energy production from controlled nuclear fusion reactions has been on-going for many decades. Here, the inertial-confinement fusion approach, based on heating and compressing a fuel pellet with intense lasers, is reviewed in-depth.


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