Inertial confinement by spherical implosion
The concept of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) is to burn a few milligrams of fuel compressed to more than 1000 times liquid density within the time interval in which mass inertia keeps the burning fuel together. The required densities can be obtained by imploding a spherical shell ‘target’ (or ‘capsule’) by high-power radiation (laser beams, ion beams, X-rays). Deposition of the beam energy leads to heating and ablation of the surface of the shell and generates the pressure that drives the implosion. The stages of shell implosion, ignition, and propagating burn are then essentially independent of the driver and the irradiation scheme. This chapter discusses the principles of inertial confinement fusion in a simple, almost self-contained manner, and illustrates them by 1-D simulation results of the implosion of a typical direct-drive laser-driven ICF target. Aspects of implosion symmetry are discussed and illustrated by 2-D simulations. The energy output of ICF reactor-size targets is also briefly described.
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