New Laser Technology Promising Breakthrough in Fusion Energy Production


Published Date : Nov 18, 2015

Scientists for decades have turned to laser technology to heat materials to mimic the fusion process that takes place in the sun. Fusion in the sun helps to create a massive amount of energy. However, a new technique developed by scientists is now the fastest heating rates ever observed and researchers are now moving closer towards achieving fusion energy.

The aim of fusion energy is to create a process similar to that takes place in the sun, wherein the hydrogen atoms are heated to around 10 million degree Celsius and get fused to form helium. This releases a massive amount of energy. According to scientists, if this process is achieved on Earth in a reactor, then it is capable of self-sustaining and providing almost limitless energy.

The new ultra-powerful laser developed by scientists is capable of heating materials to temperatures which could be hotter than the sun and might lead to a breakthrough in fusion energy production. At the Imperial College London, the U.K., theoretical physicists have proposed a heating technique capable of taking advantage of high-intensity lasers to create electrostatic shockwaves. With the right material, this laser technology is capable of heating up ions in present in the material directly.

If these high-intensity lasers are built, they can heat up atoms at a rate that is 100 times faster than present fusion experiments. This would also help bring materials at a temperature of 10 million degree Celsius within a millionth of a second. According to models created over computer a material with appropriate combinations of ions will be able to see these electrostatic shock waves heating up the ions in an instant by boosting them at varying speeds and resulting in friction.

The lead author of the study, Arthur Turrell stated that it is a completely unexpected result and one of the problems with fusion research was getting the energy from the laser at the right time in the right place. He further stated that this places energy into the ions.