Related topics: plasma

France's global nuclear fusion device a puzzle of huge parts

A hugely ambitious project to replicate the energy of the sun is entering a critical phase, as scientists and technicians in southern France begin assembling giant parts of a nuclear fusion device, an international experiment ...

Quest advances to recreate sun's energy on earth

Fourteen years after receiving the official go-ahead, scientists on Tuesday began assembling a giant machine in southern France designed to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the process which powers the sun, can be a safe ...

A new way to study how elements mix deep inside giant planets

There are giants among us—gas and ice giants to be specific. They orbit the same star, but their environmental conditions and chemical makeup are wildly different from those of Earth. These enormous planets—Jupiter, Saturn, ...

Black hole model reveals star collapse without bright explosion

A team of scientists, including Chief Investigator Ilya Mandel from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) at Monash University, recently studied what happens to rotating massive stars when ...

Hotel Ruthenium: how hydrogen checks in but never leaves

How does hydrogen form blisters in ruthenium mirrors for extreme UV (EUV) lithography machines? An M2i research project by Chidozie Onwudinanti and colleagues at DIFFER, Eindhoven University of Technology and University of ...

Take a peek inside a giant star right before it dies

The biggest stars in the universe are some of the most fascinatingly complex objects to inhabit the cosmos. Indeed, giant stars have defied full explanation for decades, especially when they're near the end of their lives.

In the far future, the universe will be mostly invisible

If you look out on the sky on a nice clear dark night, you'll see thousands of intense points of light. Those stars are incredibly far away, but bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from that great distance—a considerable ...

New ultrafast camera takes 70 trillion pictures per second

Just about everyone has had the experience of blinking while having their picture taken. The camera clicks, your eyes shut, and by the time they open again, the photo is ruined. A new ultrafast camera developed at Caltech, ...

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Nuclear fusion

In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple like-charged atomic nuclei join together to form a heavier nucleus. It is accompanied by the release or absorption of energy, which allows matter to enter a plasma state.

The fusion of two nuclei with lower mass than iron (which, along with nickel, has the largest binding energy per nucleon) generally releases energy while the fusion of nuclei heavier than iron absorbs energy; vice-versa for the reverse process, nuclear fission. In the simplest case of hydrogen fusion, two protons have to be brought close enough for their mutual electric repulsion to be overcome by the nuclear force and the subsequent release of energy.

Nuclear fusion occurs naturally in stars. Artificial fusion in human enterprises has also been achieved, although has not yet been completely controlled. Building upon the nuclear transmutation experiments of Ernest Rutherford done a few years earlier, fusion of light nuclei (hydrogen isotopes) was first observed by Mark Oliphant in 1932; the steps of the main cycle of nuclear fusion in stars were subsequently worked out by Hans Bethe throughout the remainder of that decade. Research into fusion for military purposes began in the early 1940s as part of the Manhattan Project, but was not successful until 1952. Research into controlled fusion for civilian purposes began in the 1950s, and continues to this day.

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