Physicists took the first step towards the development of thermonuclear space engine

Researchers have demonstrated technology to achieve nuclear synthesis without the use of a massive reactor, which can serve as a basis for developing a compact thermonuclear engine in the future.

For nuclear synthesis, extremely high temperature, density and pressure, which will force the nuclei of atoms to overcome their natural tendency to repulsion from each other. On Earth, this is achieved using special equipment: stellarators or tokamak.

However, scientists from NASA recently reported the development of a new method for creating thermonuclear synthesis, for which only some metal with hydrogen and electron accelerator are required. For experiments, the team used ERBIA and titanium slices, which under high pressure «loaded» by gaseous deuterium (hydrogen isotope). During this process, their metal lattice began to collapse to keep deuterium, because of which the structure of Titan and Erbia became similar to the powder.

At this point, scientists used the electrons accelerator, firing the charged particles to the tungsten target, generating X-ray radiation. These high-energy photons focused on a metal sample filled with deuterium. When the radiation falls on the isotopes inside the sample, it splits them into protons and neutrons, which are spilled, face other deuterium atoms.

The cascade effect as a result of a set of such collisions and interactions leads to the formation of deuteron, which moves with high energy sufficient to overcome the Coulomb barrier and the fusion of two atoms in the crystal lattice of the metal, the electrons of which shock the energetic isotope particle, protecting it from the repulsive effect of the target. Even if the deuteron faces a metal atom, then as a result of such a reaction, useful energy is also produced.

Although scientists have to have many more studies, but according to their own, this discovery has opened the way to create a compact thermonuclear engine for spacecraft.

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