OMEGA Laser Fusion Work is Progress on a Long Road

Researchers at the OMEGA Laser Facility at the University of Rochester in New York improved the fusion yield by a factor of three compared with OMEGA’s previous record. The OMEGA facility focuses 60 high-power laser beams are directed onto a millimeter-sized capsule that contains fusion fuel. The intense light produces large pressures, imploding the fuel at high velocities.

Nature – Tripled yield in direct-drive laser fusion through statistical modelling

A statistical approach was used to design and quantitatively predict the results of implosions of solid deuterium–tritium targets carried out with the 30-kilojoule OMEGA laser system. They achieved a tripling of the fusion yield to its highest value so far for direct-drive laser fusion. If this work scales to 63 times the power level then it would be at the power level of the National Ignition Facility. The National Ignition Facility can place 1.9 megajoules onto a fusion target. The OMEGA facility scaled result reproduced on the National Ignition Facility would produce fusion energy output of about 500 kilojoules. This would be several times larger than the fusion yields currently achieved at that facility.

This would only be 25% of the breakeven for plasma breakeven.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory could produce 1,000 times more fusion reactions than the recent OMEGA laser experiments.

Researchers will perform two years of experiments on OMEGA using the same asymmetric laser configuration as the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in preparations for scaled-up power tests.

SOURCES- Nature, OMEGA Laser Facility

Written By Brian Wang