Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a tabletop atomic accelerator that produces nuclear fusion at room temperature.
The device, which uses two opposing crystals to generate a powerful electric field, could lead to "a portable, battery-operated neutron generator for a variety of applications, from non-destructive testing to detecting explosives and scanning luggage at airports".
The successful demonstration provides confirmation of an earlier experiment conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), while offering substantial improvements over the original design.
"Our study shows that 'crystal fusion' is a mature technology with considerable commercial potential," said Yaron Danon, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer.
"This new device is simpler and less expensive than the previous version, and it has the potential to produce even more neutrons."
The new study verified that pyroelectric crystals are a viable means of producing nuclear fusion, and that commercial applications may be closer than originally thought, according to Danon.
"Nuclear fusion has been explored as a potential source of power, but we are not looking at this as an energy source right now," he explained.
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