The National Ignition Facility (NIF) has crossed a major threshold in its goal of achieving nuclear fusion “ignition” following the results of a September 2013 experiment, BBC News reported on Monday.
NIF researchers reportedly discovered that for the first time, the experiment produced a fusion reaction in which the process of compressing and heating a hydrogen fuel pellet led to more energy being released than absorbed into the pellet.
In the past, “inefficiencies” in the system created inconsistencies in how much of the energy generated by its 192-beam laser — the most powerful one in the world, according to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which hosts the NIF — was being delivered to the popcorn-sized pellet.
Researchers have said in the past that their goal is to create a state of “ignition,” in which the fusion reaction generates just as much energy as that released by the laser.
A call to Lawrence Livermore for comment was not returned before publication.
Watch a video on the 192-beam laser, published by Lawrence Livermore in May 2013, below.