This artist's rendering shows a NIF target pellet (the white ball) inside a hohlraum capsule with laser beams entering through openings on either end. The beams compress and heat the target to the necessary conditions for nuclear fusion to occur. (Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
From Science Daily:
Science Daily (Jan. 29, 2010) — The first experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) have demonstrated a unique physics effect that bodes well for NIF's success in generating a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction.
In inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments on NIF, the energy of 192 powerful laser beams is fired into a pencil-eraser-sized cylinder called a hohlraum, which contains a tiny spherical target filled with deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen. Rocket-like compression of the fuel capsule forces the hydrogen nuclei to combine, or fuse, releasing many times more energy than the laser energy that was required to spark the reaction. Fusion energy is what powers the sun and stars.
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