Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The Big Picture reports: [edited]
'Creating a miniature star on Earth' is the goal of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), home to the world's largest and highest-energy laser in Livermore, California.
On September 29th, 2010, the NIF completed its first integrated ignition experiment, where it focused its 192 lasers on a small cylinder housing a tiny frozen capsule containing hydrogen fuel, briefly bombarding it with 1 megajoule of laser energy.
The experiment was the latest in a series of tests leading to a hoped-for 'ignition', where the nuclei of the atoms of the fuel inside the target capsule are made to fuse together releasing tremendous energy - potentially more energy than was put in to start the initial reaction, becoming a valuable power source.
The NIF has cost over $3.5 billion since 1997 and is a part of the federally funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Scientists at NIF say they hope to achieve fusion by 2012.