Particle Physics Seminar: The success of inertial confinement fusion experiments and the roadmap towards fusion energy

Siegfried H. Glenzer, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, U.S.A. & IAS Fulbright-TAU Senior Scholar, 2023/2024

20 June 2024, 12:00 
Kaplun Building, Flekser Hall 118 
Particle Physics Seminar

A Mortimer & Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies Lecture



The demonstration of energy gain by nuclear fusion in the laboratory and its eventual utilization as an unlimited energy source has been a grand challenge for physicists and engineers for 70 years. The realization as an industrial energy source would have a tremendous impact on our society and would change our approach to energy policy and climate change. In this talk, I will present the very recent achievement of multi-megajoule energy yield from deuterium-tritium plasmas in indirectly driven inertial confinement fusion implosions on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, CA, USA [1-4]. These experiments exceed fusion powers of 70 PW in a single event, vastly exceeding human’s total annual power production by a factor of 3,000. If these fusion events can be repeated many times per second it would revolutionize human power generation. The scientific achievement came after increasing the fusion energy yield by a factor of 2,000 since the first experiments on the National Ignition Facility about a decade ago. I will discuss the discoveries and roadblocks towards ignition and how obstacles were overcome. Presently, we are on the path to continuously increasing energy gain by improving the NIF laser performance and energy coupling to the fusion capsule. In parallel, the launch of the Biden administration’s bold decadal vision and >$6 billion private industry investments have motivated the exploration of several avenues towards power generation by fusion ignition and high yield laser drive. These efforts are underpinned by laser and target technology developments at SLAC with the MEC-U proposal, the U.S. DOE’s Starfire program with the IneRtial FusIon Science and TEchnology (RISE) Hub, and the proposed Stanford Center for Extreme Energy. I will review the recent technical accomplishments and discuss strategy efforts to accelerate the development of fusion technology.



[1] H. Abu-Shawareb et al., Physical Review Letters (2022).

[2] A. L. Kritcher et al., Nature Physics (2022).

[3] A. B. Zylstra et al., Nature Comm. (2022).

[4] H. Abu-Shawareb et al., Physical Review Letters (2024).



Seminar Organizer: Dr. Michael Geller

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