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Pyroelectric fusion

Pyroelectric fusion is a technique for achieving nuclear fusion by using an electric field generated by pyroelectric crystals to accelerate deuterium ions (tritium might also be used someday) into a metal hydride target also containing deuterium (or tritium) with sufficient kinetic energy to cause these ions to fuse together. The novel idea with this approach to fusion is in its application of the pyroelectric effect to generate a strong electric field (gigavolts per meter), by heating the crystal from −30°C to +45°C in a few minutes. The strong field is used to accelerate deuterium ions from a needle-thin tungsten probe tip mounted on a copper disk into a solid target containing deuterium. Some of the deuterium atoms fuse, producing helium and neutrons. Fusion produced using this approach does not generate net power but may have other uses.

A UCLA team, headed by Brian Naranjo, conducted an experiment demonstrating the use of a pyroelectric power source for producing fusion on a laboratory bench top device in April 2005. The device used a lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) pyroelectric crystal to ionize deuterium atoms and accelerate the ions towards a stationary erbium dideuteride (ErD2) target. Around 1000 fusion reactions per second took place, each resulting in the production of an 820 keV helium-3 nucleus and a 2.45 MeV neutron. The team anticipated applications of the device as a neutron generator, or in microthrusters for space propulsion.

A team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, led by Dr. Danon and his graduate student Jeffrey Geuther, has confirmed and improved upon these experiments using a device using two pyroelectric crystals and capable of operating at non-cryogenic temperatures.

Nuclear D-D fusion driven by pyroelectric crystals was proposed by Naranjo and Putterman in 2002. It was also discussed by Brownridge and Shafroth in 2004. The possibility of using pyroelectric crystals in a neutron production device (by D-D fusion) was first proposed in a conference paper by Geuther and Danon in 2004 and later in a publication discussing electron and ion acceleration by pyroelectric crystals. The key ingredient of using a tungsten needle to produce sufficient ion beam current for use with a pyroelectric crystal power supply was first proposed and demonstrated in the 2005 Nature paper although in a broader context tungsten emitter tips have been used as ion sources in other applications for many years.

This development is not related to earlier claims of fusion having been observed during sonoluminescence (bubble fusion). In fact, the leader of the team behind this development was one of the main critics of these earlier prospective fusion claims.


  • B. Naranjo, J.K. Gimzewski and S. Putterman "Observation of nuclear fusion driven by a pyroelectric crystal". Nature, April 28, 2005
  • B. Naranjo and S. Putterman "Search for fusion from energy focusing phenomena in ferroelectric crystals". UCEI Proposal, February 1, 2002
  • James D. Brownridge and Stephen M. Shafroth, [1], 1 May 2004
  • Jeffrey A. Geuther, Yaron Danon, “Pyroelectric Electron Acceleration: Improvements and Future Applications”, ANS Winter Meeting Washington, D.C, November 14 – 18, 2004.
  • Jeffrey A. Geuther, Yaron Danon “Electron and Positive Ion Acceleration with Pyroelectric Crystals”, Journal of Applied Physics 97, 074109 (April 1 2005).
  • The effect was reported in the journal Nature on April 28 2005 by a team at UCLA. [2]
  • Matin Durrani and Peter Rodgers "Fusion seen in table-top experiment". Physics Web, April 27, 2005
  • NY Team Confirms UCLA Tabletop Fusion

See also

Fusion power
v  d  e

Atomic nucleus | Nuclear fusion | Nuclear power | Nuclear reactor | Timeline of nuclear fusion | Plasma physics | Magnetohydrodynamics | Neutron flux | Fusion energy gain factor | Lawson criterion

Methods of fusing nuclei

Magnetic confinement: – Tokamak – Spheromak – Stellarator – Reversed field pinch – Field-Reversed Configuration – Levitated Dipole
Inertial confinement: –
Laser driven – Z-pinch – Bubble fusion (acoustic confinement) – Fusor (electrostatic confinement)
Other forms of fusion: –
Muon-catalyzed fusion – Pyroelectric fusion – Migma – Polywell – Dense plasma focus

List of fusion experiments

Magnetic confinement devices
ITER (International) | JET (European) | JT-60 (Japan) | Large Helical Device (Japan) | KSTAR (Korea) | EAST (China) | T-15 (Russia) | DIII-D (USA) | Tore Supra (France) | TFTR (USA) | NSTX (USA) | NCSX (USA) | UCLA ET (USA) | Alcator C-Mod (USA) | LDX (USA) | H-1NF (Australia) | MAST (UK) | START (UK) | ASDEX Upgrade (Germany) | Wendelstein 7-X (Germany) | TCV (Switzerland) | DEMO (Commercial)

Inertial confinement devices
Laser driven:NIF (USA) | OMEGA laser (USA) | Nova laser (USA) | Novette laser (USA) | Nike laser (USA) | Shiva laser (USA) | Argus laser (USA) | Cyclops laser (USA) | Janus laser (USA) | Long path laser (USA) | 4 pi laser (USA) | LMJ (France) | Luli2000 (France) | GEKKO XII (Japan) | ISKRA lasers (Russia) | Vulcan laser (UK) | Asterix IV laser (Czech Republic) | HiPER laser (European)
Non-laser driven: — Z machine (USA) |

See also: International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pyroelectric_fusion". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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