The advent of high-intensity-pulsed laser technology enables the generation of extreme states of matter under conditions that are far from thermal equilibrium. This in turn could enable different approaches to generating energy from nuclear fusion. Relaxing the equilibrium requirement could widen the range of isotopes used in fusion fuels permitting cleaner and less hazardous reactions that do not produce high-energy neutrons. Here we propose and implement a means to drive fusion reactions between protons and boron-11 nuclei by colliding a laser-accelerated proton beam with a laser-generated boron plasma. We report proton-boron reaction rates that are orders of magnitude higher than those reported previously. Beyond fusion, our approach demonstrates a new means for exploring low-energy nuclear reactions such as those that occur in astrophysical plasmas and related environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)