First cascade of nuclear fusions created by laser


Physicists obtained the first self-sustaining reaction by this technique at the laboratory in Livermore, California.

Will we ever master the energy that makes the stars shine? If we already know how to trigger nuclear fusion reactions (this is the principle of the H-bomb), we are still struggling to control it. To date, there are two exploratory avenues: fusion by magnetic confinement and inertial fusion. The first consists in producing a very hot but not very dense plasma, confined thanks to an intense magnetic field in what is called a tokamak, a large ring in the shape of a buoy. If kept hot enough for long enough, the heavy hydrogen nuclei in the plasma eventually coalesce, releasing a large amount of energy, potentially greater than that injected to achieve it. This is what the international Iter project, under construction in the south of France, in Cadarache, will attempt to achieve from 2026.

The second technique, which seems more difficult to apply, is on the other hand extremely fertile on the theoretical level: it consists…

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