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Nuclear fusion reactions create unexpectedly high-energy particles

Burning plasma fusion reactions, which have only recently been created, are producing higher-energy particles than researchers expected

Physics 14 November 2022

National Ignition Facility

Lasers at the National Ignition Facility

Damien Jenison/NIF

Burning plasma fusion reactions, thought to be crucial for building working fusion reactors, are producing more high-energy particles than researchers expected. Solving the mystery of why could be key to making fusion viable.

When a highly compressed and hot gas called a plasma begins to heat itself up from internal reactions, it is said to be a burning plasma, a state of matter only recently created at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California. We expect the charged particles, or ions, …