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Investigating plasma enhancement of proton-boron fusion in laser experiments

by Dr Lance Labun (U Texas)

Europe/Berlin
Description

Proton-boron fusion has recently received much attention in energy research because the primary reaction is aneutronic and produces 3 alpha particles, which efficiently deposit their energy in the fusion medium.  The pB cross section peaks at over 600 keV requiring higher energy input to initiate reactions.  For this reason, high intensity short-pulse lasers have been used to provide hot enough protons.  An early experiment showed evidence of a plasma enhancement of the pB yield over cold beam-target conditions.  We conducted experiments at the Texas Petawatt to compare the proton-boron reaction yield in beam-target and direct laser-irradiation geometries.  Semi-analytic predictions of both the yield of alphas and yields of secondary reactions, such as carbon-11, allow us to cross check measurements of the alpha yield.  With increased confidence in the alpha measurement, we can clarify hypothesized plasma enhancement of the proton-boron yield.