Breakthrough at cutting-edge laser lab brings fusion energy closer than ever

Scientists and engineers at the Lawrence Livermoore National Laboratory say they successfully created burning plasma in a laboratory that briefly sustained itself by the heat of its own nuclear fusion reactions – a key milestone on the road to harnessing functional fusion energy.

The researchers used the world’s most energetic laser at the lab’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) to heat up a BB-sized hydrogen isotope to many times the temperature at the very core of the Sun. This created the pressure necessary to trigger the fusion process in the hydrogen, which then heated the material of its own accord by a significant fraction of a megajoule without the aid of other sources of heat.

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