Colorado State University scientists, using a compact but powerful laser to heat arrays of ordered nanowires, have demonstrated micro-scale nuclear fusion in the lab. They have achieved record-setting efficiency for the generation of neutrons – chargeless sub-atomic particles resulting from the fusion process. This process, which powers the sun, happens when nuclear reactions between light elements produce heavier ones. The work of these scientists is detailed in an open paper published in Nature Communications , and is led by Jorge Rocca, University Distinguished Professor in electrical and computer engineering and physics. The paper’s first author is Alden Curtis, a CSU graduate student. Laser-driven controlled fusion experiments are typically done with multi-hundred-million-dollar lasers housed in stadium-sized buildings. Such experiments are usually geared toward harnessing fusion for clean energy applications. In contrast, Rocca’s team of students, research scientists and collaborators, work with an ultra-fast, high-powered tabletop laser they built from scratch. […]