Cluster dynamics transcending chemical dynamics toward nuclear fusion

Andreas Heidenreich, Joshua Jortner*, Isidore Last

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrafast cluster dynamics encompasses femtosecond nuclear dynamics, attosecond electron dynamics, and electron-nuclear dynamics in ultraintense laser fields (peak intensities 1015-1020 W·cm -2). Extreme cluster multielectron ionization produces highly charged cluster ions, e.g., (C4+(D+)4)n and (D+I22+)n at IM = 1018 W·cm-2, that undergo Coulomb explosion (CE) with the production of high-energy (5 keV to 1 MeV) ions, which can trigger nuclear reactions in an assembly of exploding clusters. The laser intensity and the cluster size dependence of the dynamics and energetics of CE of (D 2)n, (HT)n, (CD4)n, (DI)n, (CD3I)n, and (CH3I) n clusters were explored by electrostatic models and molecular dynamics simulations, quantifying energetic driving effects, and kinematic run-over effects. The optimization of table-top dd nuclear fusion driven by CE of deuterium containing heteroclusters is realized for light-heavy heteroclusters of the largest size, which allows for the prevalence of cluster vertical ionization at the highest intensity of the laser field. We demonstrate a 7-orders-of-magnitude enhancement of the yield of dd nuclear fusion driven by CE of light-heavy heteroclusters as compared with (D2)n clusters of the same size. Prospective applications for the attainment of table-top nucleosynthesis reactions, e.g., 12C(P,γ) 13N driven by CE of (CH3I)n clusters, were explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10589-10593
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2006


  • Coulomb explosion
  • Energetic and kinematic driving
  • High-energy ions
  • Multicharged heteroclusters
  • Table-top nuclear reactions


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