Scientists at the National Ignition Facility in the US have achieved a major breakthrough in nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is a process in which atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy in the process. It is the same process that powers the sun and other stars.
Nuclear fusion has the potential to provide a virtually limitless and clean source of energy. It could potentially provide a much-needed alternative to fossil fuels, which are finite and produce greenhouse gases when burned. In addition, fusion reactions produce very little radioactive waste compared to traditional nuclear power, which uses nuclear fission reactions.
However, achieving practical and sustained nuclear fusion on Earth has proven to be a formidable scientific and engineering challenge. Scientists and engineers are working on several approaches to achieving controlled fusion, including magnetic confinement, inertial confinement, and laser-induced fusion (which was used in this case). If these approaches can be made to work efficiently and economically, nuclear fusion could provide a safe and abundant source of energy for generations to come.
Last modified: May 5, 2023