However, the NIF experiment is not without controversy. The Californian facility’s primary purpose is to allow munitions to be tested without a radioactive fallout, which would contravene the nuclear test ban treaty.
Critics fear the US military is using the NIF complex to develop a new generation of advanced nuclear weapons, although a spokesman for the facility denied this.
Physicists hope to develop the first form of nuclear fusion technology by firing laser beams at a pellet of hydrogen
SCIENTISTS are to use the world’s most powerful laser system to replicate the fiery core of the sun in experiments that may ultimately offer humanity a clean source of energy.
After more than 50 years of experimentation, physicists are hoping to develop the first form of nuclear fusion technology that produces more energy than it consumes.
Within the next fortnight, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California will fire 192 separate laser beams capable of generating 500 trillion watts – 1,000 times the power of the US national grid – for a fraction of a second.
The energy pulse will be concentrated on a tiny pellet of hydrogen in an attempt to mimic the reactions that take place inside the sun.
The scientists hope to refine the process over the next year until they trigger a nuclear reaction capable of producing large amounts of energy.