Focusing laser light from the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scientists were able to generate, for just 100 trillionths of a second, a blast of energy measured at more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power, the laboratory announced last week. The experiment was hailed as a critical achievement as it generated eight times more power than the technique had developed in the past.
The laboratory called it “a significant step towards ignition, achieving a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules.” ”This advancement puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition, an important goal of the NIF – and opens access to a new experimental regime,” according to the Lab’s statement.
“The experiment was enabled by focusing laser light from NIF, the size of three football fields, onto a target the size of a BB that produces a hot-spot the diameter of a human hair.”
Jill Hruby, the Department of Energy’s undersecretary for Nuclear Security deemed the results of the test “advance the science that NNSA depends on to modernize our nuclear weapons and production as well as open new avenues of research.”
The advancement is also being hailed as a step towards commercial use for fission energy. In terms of power, the test improved yields eight times over experiments conducted in the spring and 25 times the yield achieved in 2018.
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