News of the WeekPhysics

Test Shots Show Laser-Fusion Experiment Is on Target

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Science  29 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5965, pp. 514
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5965.514

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In a study published online this week by Science, researchers at the National Ignition Facility, a huge laser for nuclear fusion experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, describe their first experiments using all 192 of the facility's beams on test targets empty of fuel. They were able to couple the laser's energy into the target efficiently and implode the target symmetrically—so far, so good. The scientists say they are on target to attempt ignition—a self-sustaining fusion reaction that produces excess energy—before the end of this year.