Conversion of laser energy to nuclear energy driven by Coulomb explosion of nanostructures

Andreas Heidenreich, Isidore Last, Shlomo Ron, Joshua Jortner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Tabletop nuclear fusion reactions in the chemical physics laboratory can be induced by ultrafast, high-energy dynamics of multicharged nanostructures. Compelling experimental and theoretical evidence emerged for nuclear fusion driven by Coulomb explosion (NFDCE) of multicharged deuterium, containing nanostructures generated by ultraintense, femtosecond, near-infrared laser pulses. NFDCE constitutes the conversion of laser energy to nuclear energy mediated by the dynamics of molecular nanostructures. Theoretical-computational studies of tabletop laser-driven nuclear fusion of high-energy (upto 15 MeV) deuterons with 7Li, 6Li and D nuclei demonstrate the attainment of high fusion yields within a source-target reaction design. This constitutes a source of Coulomb exploding deuterium nanodroplets and a solid, hollow cylindrical target containing the second element. The fusion yields and efficiencies were maximised for the nanodroplet size and the laser parameters which accomplish optimal laser energy deposition into single nanodroplets and into an assembly of nanodroplets. The reaction design attains the highest tabletop fusion efficiencies (upto 4 × 109 J-1 per laser pulse) obtained to date. The highest conversion efficiency of laser energy to nuclear energy (10-2 to 10-3) for tabletop fusion in the source-target design, with a source of exploding large deuterium nanodroplets (initial size of 300 nm driven by superintense lasers (peak intensity: 5 × 1019 W cm-2), is comparable to that for DT fusion currently accomplished for 'big science' inertial fusion setups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2108-2117
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Physics
Issue number14-15
StatePublished - 2013


FundersFunder number
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación


    • Clusters and nanodroplets
    • Coulomb explosion
    • Source-target design
    • Tabletop nuclear fusion
    • Ultraintense lasers


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