Nuclear fusion

Fast heating scalable to laser fusion ignition

Abstract

Rapid heating of a compressed fusion fuel by a short-duration laser pulse is a promising route to generating energy by nuclear fusion1, and has been demonstrated on an experimental scale using a novel fast-ignitor geometry2. Here we describe a refinement of this system in which a much more powerful, pulsed petawatt (1015 watts) laser creates a fast-heated core plasma that is scalable to full-scale ignition, significantly increasing the number of fusion events while still maintaining high heating efficiency at these substantially higher laser energies. Our findings bring us a step closer to realizing the production of relatively inexpensive, full-scale fast-ignition laser facilities.

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Figure 1: Fast heating of highly compressed plasmas with a petawatt (PW)-class laser pulse.

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Correspondence to R. Kodama.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kodama, R., Shiraga, H., Shigemori, K. et al. Fast heating scalable to laser fusion ignition. Nature 418, 933–934 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/418933a

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