Inertial Confinement Fusion
The image above shows the laser-driven implosion of a small pellet of fusion fuel at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Many invisible infra-red laser beams simultaneously converge on a tiny target, intensely heating the outside and squeezing the fuel into the center of the pellet. The inertia of the implosion traps the fuel for a billionth of a second at ten-million-degree temperatures and densities far greater than solid matter. The intense heat and pressure force the fuel to fuse, much like inside a star. These experiments are currently used to simulate conditions inside stars (and hydrogen bombs), but scientists also hope to develop the inertial confinement approach in creating an economically and environmentally viable energy source here on earth.
To learn more about fusion reactions and the inertial confinement approach, browse the CPEP Online Fusion Course from here or from the FusEdWeb Menu.