Credit: General Atomics (left) and R. Moyer, University of California, San Diego (right)
Caption: Left: See an image of a 3.6-millimeter-diameter, 40-micrometers-thick, 30-milligram boron-filled diamond shell. Right: (a) Visible imaging composite showing (1) shell pellet hitting the boundary of the plasma, (2) continuing through the q=3/2 surface, and (3) ablating and releasing boron dust in the core. (b) Expanded view of (3), highlighting shell and dust. Injection velocity ≈ 230 meter/second.
To put the energy-producing power of a star to work, researchers create and contain plasma—the ultra-hot gas that makes up a star’s core—inside a bagel-shaped tokamak. Inside the tokamak, the plasma can go unstable and rapidly terminate, in a process called a “disruption.” A disruption can damage tokamak walls and other structures. Mitigating disruptions means injecting impurities into the plasma. The impurities radiate the plasma energy evenly around t...