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      Burning plasma achieved in inertial fusion

      research-article
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      Nature
      Nature Publishing Group UK
      Nuclear fusion and fission, Laser-produced plasmas

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          Abstract

          Obtaining a burning plasma is a critical step towards self-sustaining fusion energy 1 . A burning plasma is one in which the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma, which is necessary to sustain and propagate the burn, enabling high energy gain. After decades of fusion research, here we achieve a burning-plasma state in the laboratory. These experiments were conducted at the US National Ignition Facility, a laser facility delivering up to 1.9 megajoules of energy in pulses with peak powers up to 500 terawatts. We use the lasers to generate X-rays in a radiation cavity to indirectly drive a fuel-containing capsule via the X-ray ablation pressure, which results in the implosion process compressing and heating the fuel via mechanical work. The burning-plasma state was created using a strategy to increase the spatial scale of the capsule 2, 3 through two different implosion concepts 47 . These experiments show fusion self-heating in excess of the mechanical work injected into the implosions, satisfying several burning-plasma metrics 3, 8 . Additionally, we describe a subset of experiments that appear to have crossed the static self-heating boundary, where fusion heating surpasses the energy losses from radiation and conduction. These results provide an opportunity to study α-particle-dominated plasmas and burning-plasma physics in the laboratory.

          Abstract

          A burning plasma, a critical step towards self-sustaining fusion, is achieved at the US National Ignition Facility, with a subset of experiments demonstrating fusion self-heating beyond radiation and conduction losses.

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          Most cited references42

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          Development of the indirect‐drive approach to inertial confinement fusion and the target physics basis for ignition and gain

          John Lindl (1995)
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            Laser Compression of Matter to Super-High Densities: Thermonuclear (CTR) Applications

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              The Physics of Inertial Fusion

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                zylstra1@llnl.gov
                hurricane1@llnl.gov
                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Nature
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                26 January 2022
                26 January 2022
                2022
                : 601
                : 7894
                : 542-548
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.250008.f, ISNI 0000 0001 2160 9702, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ; Livermore, CA USA
                [2 ]GRID grid.148313.c, ISNI 0000 0004 0428 3079, Los Alamos National Laboratory, ; Los Alamos, NM USA
                [3 ]GRID grid.463726.2, ISNI 0000 0000 9029 5703, Laboratoire pour l’utilisation des Lasers Intenses chez École Polytechnique, ; Palaiseau, France
                [4 ]GRID grid.16416.34, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9174, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, , University of Rochester, ; Rochester, NY USA
                [5 ]GRID grid.192673.8, ISNI 0000 0004 0634 455X, General Atomics, ; San Diego, CA USA
                [6 ]GRID grid.116068.8, ISNI 0000 0001 2341 2786, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ; Cambridge, MA USA
                [7 ]GRID grid.445003.6, ISNI 0000 0001 0725 7771, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, ; Menlo Park, CA USA
                [8 ]GRID grid.63833.3d, ISNI 0000000406437510, Atomic Weapons Establishment, ; Aldermaston, UK
                [9 ]GRID grid.511580.8, Diamond Materials, ; Freiburg, Germany
                Article
                4281
                10.1038/s41586-021-04281-w
                8791836
                35082418
                81e23730-f94f-40f5-8643-5c9bb15f9e8e
                © The Author(s) 2022

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2022

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                nuclear fusion and fission,laser-produced plasmas
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                nuclear fusion and fission, laser-produced plasmas

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