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How do you create efficient fusion power with fewer radioactive by-products? Use a laser to send the equivalent of a seismic wave through the fuel.

Nuclear fusion – creating energy by fusing together light atomic nuclei, such as hydrogen – could begin at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California this year.

To kick-start the reaction, the plan is to focus 192 high-power laser beams onto a tiny hollow metal cylinder that contains a small spherical fuel pellet of deuterium and tritium. The lasers would heat the cylinder to several million degrees, encouraging it to emit high-power X-rays into the pellet.

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