Research will be the key in the energy transition. That’s why Thales and Marvel Fusion have established a scientific collaboration on nuclear laser fusion. This research program involves adapting the laser of Thales, the most powerful in the world, located at the European Center for Laser Research in Nuclear Physics in Mãgurele, near Bucharest (Romania). This collaboration is part of the ELI-NP project (Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics), which set a world record in 2019. The ultra-intense laser system developed by Thales successfully delivered its first pulses of 10 petawatts. Marvel Fusion will be the first private company to establish a scientific collaboration with the ELI-NP project.
“ELI-NP, with its globally unique ability to deliver 10 PW laser beams, is expected to enable significant advances in basic science and breakthroughs in applications of great interest to society,” said the estimate. Dr. Cãlin Alexandru Ur, director of ELI-NP, quoted in the Thales press release.
First results in three years
The adaptation of the laser system consists in an improvement of certain parameters of the laser, in particular the temporal contrast of the pulses, the quality of which allows new research capacities regarding nuclear fusion with laser. This will allow Thales to strengthen its leading position in the design, development and manufacture of ultra-intense solid-state lasers for science, industry and space. This process follows the technique of frequency-driven amplification, which makes it possible to generate the highest powers from ultra-intense lasers. It gave doctors Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou, who are part of the Science and Technology Council of Marvel Fusion, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018.
” Fusion based on the latest generation of short-pulse lasers can enable the EU to guarantee an advanced energy system,” said Franck Leibreich, director of the Laser activity at Thales.
“The results of the experiments will then be published to advance the field of laser-matter interaction”, Thales said in a statement. Based on the results obtained at ELI-NP and the collaboration with Thales, Marvel Fusion aims to present its first research results within three years before building the first commercial power plants in the 2030s. Marvel Fusion aims to validate the key parameters of the interaction between high-intensity laser pulses lasting a few tens of femtoseconds (one millionth of a billionth of a second) and nanostructured fuel targets. Fusion energy is considered by some scientists to be the most promising solution to the problems of climate change and the current energy crisis.