El láser más grande del mundo se acerca a la fusión nuclear

Científicos norteamericanos han logrado alcanzar la temperatura récord de 111 millones de grados centígrados, un paso clave hacia el dominio de la fusión nuclear, disparando al mismo tiempo 192 haces.

Científicos norteamericanos han logrado alcanzar la temperatura récord de 111 millones de grados centígrados, un paso clave hacia el dominio de la fusión nuclear, disparando al mismo tiempo 192 haces de luz con el láser más grande del mundo, la Instalación Nacional de Ignición (NIF, por sus siglas en inglés), ubicada en California. Los científicos se han mostrado muy satisfechos por los resultados, que pueden llevarles al objetivo final, aún lejano, de controlar la fusión nuclear para conseguir una energía «ilimitada y limpia, sin emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero y una cantidad muy reducida de residuos».

El experimento se lleva a cabo en una gigantesca instalación científica del NIF situada en el Laboratorio Nacional Lawrence Livermore. Del tamaño de un estadio, sólo es comparable con el Gran Acelerador de Hadrones (LHC) de Ginebra -que pronto comenzará a funcionar a gran intensidad- o con el propio reactor ITER.
Como en las estrellas La fusión es la reacción que hace brillar al Sol y a las estrellas. Se produce en el corazón de éstas cuando, bajo la influencia de la gravedad, son sometidas a temperaturas muy altas (alrededor de 100 millones de grados). El objetivo de los físicos es conseguirlo en laboratorio. De momento, están utilizando dos fórmulas: confinar la materia en forma de plasma en un campo magnético muy potente y durante mucho tiempo (el camino elegido por el futuro reactor ITER, en construcción en Cadarache, Francia), o llevar la presión muy alta y a altas temperaturas durante unas fracciones de segundos, como tratan de hacer los investigadores del NIF .
En este último caso, los científicos han disparado 192 haces de luz del gigantesco láser hacia una pequeña esfera del tamaño de un gisante, rellena de hidrógeno.

El objetivo es crear en el interior de la esfera una pequeña explosión termonuclear, en la que ya se han alcanzado temperaturas superiores a los 100 millones de grados, como en el interior de una estrella. El calor producido da lugar a la fusión nuclear y, presumiblemente, a la obtención de una gran cantidad de energía.

The National Ignition Facility, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the world’s largest laser system… 192 huge laser beams in a massive building, all focused down at the last moment at a 2 millimeter ball containing frozen hydrogen gas. The goal is to achieve fusion… getting more energy out than was used to create it. It’s never been done before under controlled conditions, just in nuclear weapons and in stars. We expect to do it within the next 2-3 years. The purpose is threefold: to create an almost limitless supply of safe, carbon-free, proliferation-free electricity; examine new regimes of astrophysics as well as basic science; and study the inner-workings of the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons to ensure they remain safe, secure and reliable without the need for underground testing.


The National Ignition Facility, the world’s largest laser system, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was featured in the BBC broadcast “Horizon” hosted by physicist Brian Cox. Here is the NIF portion of the program, which was entitled “Can We Make A Star On Earth?” This video is used with the express permission of the BBC.

Star Power on Earth: Path to Clean Energy Future
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s “Science on Saturday” lecture series presents Ed Moses, Director of the National Ignition Facility, discussing the world’s largest laser system and its potential impact on society’s upcoming energy needs.

It’s the largest laser beam in the world and it’s being built in the Bay Area. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will shoot tremendous bursts of energy at an area the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? To recreate fusion — which powers the sun and some nuclear bombs — perhaps harnessing a new source of clean energy for the 21st century.

Imagine a sphere much smaller than a pea releasing enough energy to supply all of the electricity needs of the United States for a brief moment in time. How could this be possible? At the National Ignition Facility, a huge laser in Livermore, California, scientists and engineers are nearly ready to make this a reality. Edward Moses, the Project Manager at National Ignition Facility, explains how energy can be compressed to extreme power levels to potentially provide for a future of clean energy for our world.

A collection of short videos regarding various aspects of the National Ignition Facility.

KDP Crystal Growth
Watch a synthetic seed crystal grow into an 800-pound potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystal for use in the National Ignition Facility.

Optical Processing Facility
This video shows the painstaking process of preparing lenses, crystals and other optics for installation in NIF.

Optics Assembly Building
Watch technicians in clean-room body suits install a lens into a line replaceable unit for installation in a NIF beamline.

PAM Factory
In this video technicians assemble and align the components of NIF preamplifier modules, or PAMs.

Optical Switch
Technicians are shown testing the plasma electrode Pockels cell, or PEPC, a key component in the NIF beamline.

Target Chamber Construction
Watch the huge NIF target chamber being assembled and lifted into place in the target bay.

Target Chamber Exterior
This video shows the locations on the NIF target chamber where the final optics assemblies will be attached.

Target Chamber Interior
Ride along with NIF technicians as they take you inside the target chamber on a specially designed lift.

Control Room
Watch and listen as NIF Control Room operators prepare for a laser shot.

Deformable Mirror
See how NIF’s unique deformable mirrors correct for aberrations in the laser beam.

3 Respuestas a “El láser más grande del mundo se acerca a la fusión nuclear

  1. ITER is big alright. ITER is a big fatass theft of taxpayer dollars, just like every single other publicly-funded fusion ‘program’.

    Each one is a huge fatass black hole sucking down taxpayer dollars that could have been spent on better things than giant corporate welfare programs. Like housing for the people, like guaranteed annual income, like population reduction, like environmental protection.

    It is time to halt these boondoggles before they suck up more precious taxpayer dollars which are so desperately needed to help the ever-growing underclass of people living in poverty.

    The taxpayer is being told to starve so these trojan programs can continue to leech away their livelihoods. Witness today’s ‘Austerity’ programs beginning to spread through Europe and soon everywhere… there will be no money for your children or retirement as the elites are spending every Country into bankrupcy with their Wars and so-called Defense Spending and spending on toxic Fission and blackhole Fusion ‘technologies’.

    From its inception to today, fusion has been a gigantic blackhole welfare program for the rich corporations and their scientistic employees with the starving taxpayer footing the bill.

    No more. Its time to end all public funding for these so-called ‘energy’ programs. If there’s money in it let the so-called ‘Free Market’ fund it. After all, those richie private investors already have trillions floating around that they don’t know what to do with, why don’t they risk their own assets and asses instead of making the taxpayer the victim? Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy.

  2. Pingback: La UE rechaza el plan de rescate del reactor ITER

  3. Pingback: El láser más grande del mundo se acerca a la fusión nuclear « BLOG DE FISICA


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