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Question:
Is there, at present, a material that is able to facilitate a controlled fusion reaction? If so, what is the material composed of and how readily available is such?



Replies:
If you mean a material of sufficiently high melting point that you can hold a plasma in it at a few million degrees and not have it melt, no. No such material exists or will ever exist. Chemical bonds are simply not strong enough. Plasmas are presently confined in experimental fusion reactors either by enormous magnetic fields (plasmas are charged), or, in what I believe is the currently favored direction of research, "inertially." What that means is that you crunch the starting material very fast, with high-powered lasers or electron beams hitting a small pellet of it, forming the plasma, and then rely on the fact that it takes some time for the crunched material to rebound and expand into (useless) hot gas. The fusion occurs during the brief period while the material is rebounding. Since this is exactly the way you get high-yield atomic bombs, it is not surprising that some of the advanced research on this is going on at national labs that used to work on bomb research. An unexpected spin-off of the cold war, you might say, if it works out.



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