Reduced Turbulence and New Opportunities for Fusion

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Science  02 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5740, pp. 1502-1503
DOI: 10.1126/science.1113477

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Thermonuclear fusion is a highly efficient energy source for the stars; however, attempts to harness the process of fusion for energy production on Earth have been stymied by many difficult challenges. One of the most frustrating is the significant leakage of energy from magnetically confined plasmas, which is due to so-called anomalous transport. In their Perspective, Krushelnick and Cowley discuss recent work to understand the basis of this anomalous transport and find ways to control it. An approach that has created excitement in the fusion community involves the creation of transport barriers, that is, regions of plasma with just the right conditions to reduce turbulence that leads to energy leakage. Recently a combination of experimental and computational advances has led to increased understanding of these transport barriers in fusion plasmas, potentially bringing the use of controlled fusion as an energy source much closer.