Hi guys, I've been playing with the idea of building a nuclear fusion reactor in my high school science department, and I think I've decided I'm going to go for it! My science teacher is all for it, they have the vacuum pump and the right equipment for me, but I'm missing the high voltages that I will need for fusion. In order for nuclear fusion reactions to occur, I'll need the core of my reactor to reach about 66 million degrees. Yes. 66 million degrees. But don't worry, although that is about 4 times the temperature of the core of our sun, only a few particles inside the reactor will reach that heat, and since I will be using a relatively good vacuum pump, it'll be completely safe as the particles will not be able to pass on their intense heat to cause any serious damage. With that explained and out the way, I'd like to tell you all about the science of it. Now, you might be asking yourself why I need temperatures 4x that of the sun when the sun does fusion anyway. The answer is- the sun doesn't just have insane heat on it's side, it's also got gravity, and a lot of it. The way that nuclear fusion occurs is pretty simple- two atoms collide, stick together, and with their now greater mass, they have become a new element.

The fusion that occurs in our sun is currently happening with hydrogen, the hydrogen nuclei are under so much pressure (due to the high gravity) and are so hot, that they collide in the core and fuse into helium, what you may not know is that after all the hydrogen is used up, the sun doesn't just burn out. The helium nuclei begin to fuse, and the resulting element is (yup, you science geeks out there guessed it!) carbon. Some helium will also fuse with that carbon to produce oxygen. This keeps happening with different elements, getting heavier and heavier as the amount of protons and neutrons in the nuclei increase. This'll continue for billions of years until the star reaches iron, after which it only has a few seconds more to live. The star dies in a massive explosion called a supernova, or if it is massive enough, will collapse under its own immense gravity and form a black hole. Okay so I've gone off on a bit of a tangent talking about the lifetime of stars and not the main topic here - fusion (although they are kinda related!).

Going back to my main topic, my reactor will not only create helium, but I will also be creating the fourth state of matter - plasma. You can see a little picture of what the plasma inside my reactor will look like if you look at the little picture beneath my username, that's a photo of the inside of Taylor Wilson's fusion reactor, which he built at my age (14). Plasma is super cool to look at and if you have a stable plasma field inside your reactor it means that you've got a good place for fusion to occur (but not good enough if you don't have enough power - about 40,000V at 10mA). The gas that I will put into the reactor won't be pure hydrogen though either, it'll be an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium, which is basically hydrogen with a random neutron in the nucleus. I'll be getting my own deuterium from the electrolysis of heavy water (water but with deuterium instead of hydrogen) and I'll be storing it in a canister for when I begin testing of my reactor. I'm going to need a very good vacuum inside my reactor (that of interstellar space) or I simply won't be able to get any nuclear reactions going on inside my fusor (thats the shortened name for a home-made fusion reactor). Going back to plasma, the thing which makes plasma so different from the other 3 (common) states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) is the fact that plasma is at such high temperatures that the electrons orbiting the atoms nucleus begins to wander away. The bright light is created from the electrons moving into and out of higher and lower energetic states, you see, when an electron goes into a less energetic state, it gives off a photon which is a particle of light and if you have enough of this going on, you get a cool looking glow.

Thanks for reading this far if you did. I hope I have satisfied someone's need for science today, if you want to learn a little more or discuss a topic a little more complex (relativity, quantum mechanics etc.), PM me!

P.S- Does anyone have a 40kV power supply I can borrow (negative polarity)!