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X-ray view of Sun
from Yohkoh, ISAS and NASA
The vast power radiated by our sun is generated by the fusion process wherein light atoms combine with an accompanying release of energy. In nature, proper conditions for fusion occur only in the interior of stars. Researchers are attempting to produce the conditions that will permit fusion to take place on earth.

U. S. Department of Energy
The United Nations projects an increasing population and increasing energy demands. In order to meet future needs, long-term sustainable energy sources are required. Ideally future energy sources will comprise a mix of energy technologies - solar, renewables, advanced nuclear fission and fusion.

Fusion requires energetic collisions of very light elements, usually hydrogen isotopes, resulting in a nuclear reaction that leads to more stable helium nuclei and other byproducts. A net loss of mass results, yielding free energy as given by Einstein's famous equation.

There are three basic confinement mechanisms required for fusion reactions: gravitational, inertial, and magnetic. The Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at Princeton(below left) uses magnetic confinement.

Plasma radiation within the Princeton Tokamak during operation.

Both inertial and magnetic confinement fusion research have focused on confinement and heating processes with dramatic results. The next stage of operating power reactors will produce about 1 GW of power and operate at
120 million degrees Kelvin.
[from Contemporary Physics Education Project chart]

Laser plasma interaction during inertial confinement fusion test at the University of Rochester.