The D-T fusion reaction, is the most efficient reaction known in terms of energy released.
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Image courtesy of Plasma Physics Laboratory
Nuclear fusion is a process where two or more nuclei
combine to form an element with a higher atomic number
(more protons in the nucleus).
Fusion is the reverse process of nuclear fission.
Fusion of light elements (the reactants) into heavier elements
(the products) releases energy,
(as does fission of heavy elements into lighter elements).
For fusion, the energy release occurs
when the mass of the fusion products is smaller than the reactants.
The difference between the total masses of all the protons and neutrons of
a nucleus and the mass of the nucleus itself can be expressed in terms of
the binding energy.
The energy released is proportional to the difference in the
masses as predicted by Einstein's famous equation,
Fusion reactions power the Sun
and other stars.
For a fusion reaction to occur it is necessary to bring the reactants
so close together
that nuclear forces
become important and "glue" the reactants together.
However, the range of interaction
of the nuclear force is very small (10-15 meters),
and the reactants (positively charged nuclei) repel each other
because of the electrostatic force.
For these reasons fusion most easily occurs in a high density, high
On Earth, nuclear fusion was reached first in the explosion of the
In a non-desctructive manner, fusion has also been reached in different
aimed at studying the possibility of producing energy in a controlled fashion
(similar to what is presently done in nuclear power plants using fission).
The D-T reaction is presently the best candidate for
implementing a controlled fusion
power station in the near future.
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