Eugene Kowaluk
Spider Silk Anchoring a Laser Fusion Target. 2006

High-Speed Photograph; 35mm camera body with a telephoto zoom lens and multiple teleconverters; color negative film

University of Rochester, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Rochester, New York, United States

An 862 µm-diameter, cryogenic (18.344 K [-426.66ºF, -254.81ºC]), deuterium-tritium (DT)-fuel spherical capsule was mounted at the center of a 14 mm diameter beryllium “C” mount using four strands of spider silk. The image shows the capsule being irradiated by sixty beams of the OMEGA laser system, raising its temperature to over 100,000,000º C. Individual beam spots, created by each half-trillion-watt beam, can be seen on the target itself. Spider silk was used in mounting the fuel capsule, as it is the stiffest per-unit-mass fiber in existence, minimizing any possible vibration that would affect the laser beam’s target accuracy. These experiments in thermonuclear fusion reactions effectively replicate the most basic energy source in the universe—that of stars. A demonstration of ignition in the laboratory is a prerequisite to the commercial production of electricity using thermonuclear fusion.

To email this contributor, click on the following email address: