Public Release: 

Possible sound-induced nuclear fusion posited

Additional experiments are needed

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

TROY, N.Y. -- A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has reported the observation of phenomena that could point to the possibility of nuclear fusion using a novel technique for plasma confinement. The approach, called "bubble fusion," is reported in the March 8 issue of Science magazine.

Attempts to confirm these results by looking for the telltale neutron signature of the deuterium fusion reaction have yielded mixed results. Additional experiments are needed to verify neutron emission.

The research team reported that ultrasonic waves were used to implode small cavitation bubbles of deuterated-acetone vapor. The team further reported that, during bubble implosion, evidence pointing to nuclear emissions and sonoluminescence light flashes was observed, as well as evidence of tritium which could suggest the fusion of deuterium atoms in the highly compressed bubbles.

"It's hard to know at this point what the ultimate importance of this discovery will be. However at this time, it looks promising," said Professor Richard T. Lahey Jr., the Edward E. Hood Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer, one of the authors of the published research.

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The cavitation experiments were conducted at ORNL by Rusi Taleyarkhan, Colin West, and Jae Seon-Cho. Lahey and Robert Nigmatulin, a visiting scholar at Rensselaer and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, performed the theoretical analysis of the bubble dynamics and the shock-induced pressures, temperatures, and densities in the imploding bubbles. Robert Block, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Rensselaer, helped to set up and calibrate a neutron and gamma detection system.

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