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Encyclopedia
The Farnsworth–Hirsch fusor, or simply fusor, is an apparatus designed
Invention
An invention is a novel composition, device, or process. An invention may be derived from a pre-existing model or idea, or it could be independently conceived, in which case it may be a radical breakthrough. In addition, there is cultural invention, which is an innovative set of useful social...

 by Philo T. Farnsworth to create nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

. It has also been developed in various incarnations by researchers including Elmore, Tuck, and Watson, and more recently by George H. Miley
George H. Miley
George H. Miley is a physicist, inventor, and professor emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.In 1955 Miley received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering/Physics from Carnegie Mellon University. He obtained his M.Sc. and his Ph.D...

 and Robert W. Bussard
Robert W. Bussard
Robert W. Bussard was an American physicist who worked primarily in nuclear fusion energy research. He was the recipient of the Schreiber-Spence Achievement Award for STAIF-2004. He was also a fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics and held a Ph.D...

. Unlike most controlled fusion systems, which slowly heat a magnetically confined
Magnetic confinement fusion
Magnetic confinement fusion is an approach to generating fusion power that uses magnetic fields to confine the hot fusion fuel in the form of a plasma. Magnetic confinement is one of two major branches of fusion energy research, the other being inertial confinement fusion. The magnetic approach is...

 plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

, the fusor injects "high temperature" ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s directly into a reaction chamber, thereby avoiding a considerable amount of complexity. The approach is known as inertial electrostatic confinement
Inertial electrostatic confinement
Inertial electrostatic confinement is a concept for retaining a plasma using an electrostatic field. The field accelerates charged particles radially inward, usually in a spherical but sometimes in a cylindrical geometry. Ions can be confined with IEC in order to achieve controlled nuclear fusion...

.

Hopes at the time were high that it could be quickly developed into a practical source of fusion power
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

. However, as with other fusion experiments, development into a generator has proven to be difficult. Nevertheless, the fusor has since become a practical source of free neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

s, and it is produced commercially for this purpose. Fusors have been assembled in low-power forms by hobbyists.

History


The fusor was originally conceived by Philo T. Farnsworth, better known for his pioneering work in television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

. In the early 1930s he investigated a number of vacuum tube
Vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...

 designs for use in television, and found one that led to an interesting effect. In this design, which he called the multipactor, electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

s moving from one electrode
Electrode
An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit...

 to another were stopped in mid-flight with the proper application of a high-frequency magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

. The charge would then accumulate in the center of the tube, leading to high amplification. Unfortunately it also led to high erosion on the electrode
Electrode
An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit...

s when the electrons eventually hit them, and today the multipactor effect
Multipactor effect
The multipactor effect is a phenomenon in radio frequency amplifier vacuum tubes and waveguides, where, under certain conditions, secondary electron emission in resonance with an alternating electric field leads to exponential electron multiplication, possibly damaging and even destroying the RF...

 is generally considered a problem to be avoided.

What particularly interested Farnsworth about the device was its ability to focus electrons at a particular point. One of the biggest problems in fusion research
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

 is to keep the hot fuel from hitting the walls of the container. If this is allowed to happen, the fuel cannot be kept hot enough for the fusion reaction
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

 to occur. Farnsworth reasoned that he could build an electrostatic plasma confinement system in which the "wall" fields of the reactor were electrons or ions being held in place by the multipactor. Fuel could then be injected through the wall, and once inside it would be unable to escape. He called this concept a virtual electrode, and the system as a whole the fusor.

Design


Farnsworth's original fusor designs were based on cylindrical arrangements of electrodes, like the original multipactors. Fuel was ionized and then fired from small accelerators through holes in the outer (physical) electrodes. Once through the hole they were accelerated towards the inner reaction area at high velocity. Electrostatic pressure from the positively charged electrodes would keep the fuel as a whole off the walls of the chamber, and impacts from new ions would keep the hottest plasma in the center. He referred to this as inertial electrostatic confinement, a term that continues to be used to this day.

Various models of the fusor were constructed in the early 1960s. Unlike the original conception, these models used a spherical reaction area but were otherwise similar. Farnsworth ran a fairly "open" lab, and several of the lab techs also built their own fusor designs. Although generally successful, the fusor had a problem being scaled up: as the fuel was delivered via accelerators, the amount of fuel that could be used in the reaction was quite low.

Robert Hirsch


Things changed dramatically with the arrival of Robert Hirsch
Robert L. Hirsch
Robert L. Hirsch is a former senior energy program adviser for Science Applications International Corporation and is a Senior Energy Advisor at MISI and a consultant in energy, technology, and management. His primary experience is in research, development, and commercial applications...

 at the lab. He proposed an entirely new way of building a fusor without the ion guns or multipactor electrodes. Instead the system was constructed as two similar spherical electrodes, one inside the other, all inside a larger container filled with a dilute fuel gas. In this system the guns were no longer needed, and corona discharge
Corona discharge
In electricity, a corona discharge is an electrical discharge brought on by the ionization of a fluid surrounding a conductor that is electrically energized...

 around the outer electrodes was enough to provide a source of ions. Once ionized, the gas would be drawn towards the inner (negatively charged) electrode, which they would pass by and into the central reaction area.

The overall system ended up being similar to Farnsworth's original fusor design in concept, but used a real electrode in the center. Ions would collect near this electrode, forming a shell of positive charge that new ions from outside the shell would penetrate due to their high speed. Once inside the shell they would experience an additional force keeping them inside, with the cooler ones collecting into the shell itself. It is this later design, properly called the Hirsch–Meeks fusor, that continues to be experimented with today.

Work at Farnsworth Television labs


New fusors based on Hirsch's design were first constructed in the late 1960s. The first test models demonstrated that the design was effective. Soon they were showing production rates of up to a billion neutrons per second, and rates of up to a trillion per second have been reported.

All of this work had taken place at the Farnsworth Television labs, which had been purchased in 1949 by ITT Corporation
ITT Corporation
ITT Corporation is a global diversified manufacturing company based in the United States. ITT participates in global markets including water and fluids management, defense and security, and motion and flow control...

, as part of its plan to become the next RCA
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

.

A fusion research project was not regarded as immediately profitable. In 1965 the board of directors started asking Geneen to sell off the Farnsworth division, but he had his 1966 budget approved with funding until the middle of 1967. Further funding was refused, and that ended ITT's experiments with fusion.

The team then turned to the AEC
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

, then in charge of fusion research funding, and provided them with a demonstration device mounted on a serving cart that produced more fusion than any existing "classical" device. The observers were startled, but the timing was bad; Hirsch himself had recently revealed the great progress being made by the Soviets using the tokamak
Tokamak
A tokamak is a device using a magnetic field to confine a plasma in the shape of a torus . Achieving a stable plasma equilibrium requires magnetic field lines that move around the torus in a helical shape...

. In response to this surprising development, the AEC decided to concentrate funding on large tokamak projects, and reduce backing for alternative concepts.

Work at Brigham Young University


Farnsworth then moved to Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University is a private university located in Provo, Utah. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , and is the United States' largest religious university and third-largest private university.Approximately 98% of the university's 34,000 students...

 and tried to hire on most of his original lab from ITT into a new company. The company started operations in 1968, but after failing to secure several million dollars in seed capital, by 1970 they had spent all of Farnsworth's savings. The IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 seized their assets in February 1971, and in March Farnsworth suffered a bout of pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 which resulted in his death. The fusor effectively died along with him.

Recent developments


In the early 1980s, disappointed by the slow progress on "big machines", a number of physicists took a fresh look at alternative designs. George H. Miley at the University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

 picked up on the fusor and re-introduced it into the field. A low but steady interest in the fusor has remained since then. An important development was the successful commercial introduction of a fusor-based neutron generator
Neutron generator
Neutron generators are neutron source devices which contain compact linear accelerators and that produce neutrons by fusing isotopes of hydrogen together. The fusion reactions take place in these devices by accelerating either deuterium, tritium, or a mixture of these two isotopes into a metal...

. From 2006 until his death in 2007, Robert W. Bussard
Robert W. Bussard
Robert W. Bussard was an American physicist who worked primarily in nuclear fusion energy research. He was the recipient of the Schreiber-Spence Achievement Award for STAIF-2004. He was also a fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics and held a Ph.D...

 gave talks on a reactor similar in design to the Fusor, now called Polywell
Polywell
A polywell device is a type of fusion reactor that was originated by Robert Bussard under a U.S. Navy research contract. It traps electrons in a magnetic confinement inside its hollow center. The negatively charged electrons then accelerate positively charged ions for the purpose of achieving...

, that he stated would be capable of useful power generation.

Use as a power source



Basic fusion


Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

 refers to reactions in which lighter nuclei
Atomic nucleus
The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

 are combined to become heavier nuclei. Several such reactions release energy that can, in principle, be harnessed to provide fusion power
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

. The lowest energy reaction occurs in a mix of deuterium
Deuterium
Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen, is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. It has a natural abundance in Earth's oceans of about one atom in of hydrogen . Deuterium accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all naturally occurring hydrogen in Earth's oceans, while the most common isotope ...

 and tritium
Tritium
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium contains one proton and no neutrons...

, when the ions have to have a temperature of at least 4 keV (kiloelectronvolts), equivalent to about 45 million kelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

s. At such temperatures, the fuel atoms are ionized and constitute a plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

. In a practical fusion power plant, fusion reactions have to occur fast enough to make up for energy losses. The rate of reaction varies with the temperature and the density of the fuel and the loss rate is characterized by the energy confinement time τE. The minimum conditions required are expressed in the Lawson criterion
Lawson criterion
In nuclear fusion research, the Lawson criterion, first derived on fusion reactors by John D. Lawson in 1955 and published in 1957, is an important general measure of a system that defines the conditions needed for a fusion reactor to reach ignition, that is, that the heating of the plasma by the...

. In magnetic confinement fusion
Magnetic confinement fusion
Magnetic confinement fusion is an approach to generating fusion power that uses magnetic fields to confine the hot fusion fuel in the form of a plasma. Magnetic confinement is one of two major branches of fusion energy research, the other being inertial confinement fusion. The magnetic approach is...

, the necessary conditions are approached by heating a plasma contained by magnetic fields. This has proven to be very difficult in practice. The complexity of the systems applied detracts from the usefulness of the design for a practical generator.

Fusor fusion


In the original fusor design, several small particle accelerator
Particle accelerator
A particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...

s, essentially TV tubes with the ends removed, inject ions at a relatively low voltage into a vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 chamber. In the Hirsch version of the fusor, the ions are produced by ionizing a dilute gas in the chamber. In either version there are two concentric spherical electrode
Electrode
An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit...

s, the inner one being charged negatively with respect to the outer one (to about 80 kV). Once the ions enter the region between the electrodes, they are accelerated towards the center.

In the fusor, the ions are accelerated to several keV by the electrodes, so heating as such is not necessary (as long as the ions fuse before losing their energy by any process). Whereas 45 megakelvins is a very high temperature by any standard, the corresponding voltage is only 4 kV, a level commonly found in such devices as neon lights and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

s. To the extent that the ions remain at their initial energy, the energy can be tuned to take advantage of the peak of the reaction cross section
Cross section (physics)
A cross section is the effective area which governs the probability of some scattering or absorption event. Together with particle density and path length, it can be used to predict the total scattering probability via the Beer-Lambert law....

 or to avoid disadvantageous (for example neutron-producing) reactions that might occur at higher energies.

The ease with which the ion energy can be increased appears to be particularly useful when "high temperature" fusion reactions
Aneutronic fusion
Aneutronic fusion is any form of fusion power where neutrons carry no more than 1% of the total released energy. The most-studied fusion reactions release up to 80% of their energy in neutrons...

 are considered, such as proton
Proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

-boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

-11, which has plentiful fuel, requires no radioactive tritium
Tritium
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium contains one proton and no neutrons...

, and produces no neutrons in the primary reaction.

Power density


Because an electrostatic potential well cannot simultaneously trap both ions and electrons, there must be some regions of charge accumulation, which will result in an upper limit on the achievable density. The corresponding upper limit on the power density, even assuming D-T fuel, may be too low for power production.

Thermalization of the ion velocities


When they first fall into the center of the fusor, the ions will all have the same energy, but the velocity distribution will rapidly approach a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. This would occur through simple Coulomb collision
Coulomb collision
A Coulomb collision is a binary elastic collision between two charged particles interacting through their own Electric Field. As with any inverse-square law, the resulting trajectories of the colliding particles is a hyperbolic Keplerian orbit...

s in a matter of milliseconds, but beam-beam instabilities will occur orders of magnitude faster still. In comparison, any given ion will require a few minutes before undergoing a fusion reaction, so that the monoenergetic picture of the fusor, at least for power production, is not appropriate. One consequence of the thermalization is that some of the ions will gain enough energy to leave the potential well, taking their energy with them, without having undergone a fusion reaction.

Electrodes


There are a number of unsolved challenges with the electrodes in a fusor power system. To begin with, the electrodes cannot influence the potential within themselves, so it would seem at first glance that the fusion plasma would be in more or less direct contact with the inner electrode, resulting in contamination of the plasma and destruction of the electrode. However, the majority of the fusion tends to occur in microchannels formed in areas of minimum electric potential, seen as visible "rays" penetrating the core. These form because the forces within the region correspond to roughly stable "orbits". Approximately 40% of the high energy ions in a typical grid operating in star mode may be within these microchannels. Nonetheless, grid collisions remain the primary energy loss mechanism for Farnsworth-Hirsch fusors. Complicating issues is the challenge in cooling the central electrode; any fusor producing enough power to run a power plant seems destined to also destroy its inner electrode. As one fundamental limitation, any method which produces a neutron flux that is captured to heat a working fluid will also bombard its electrodes with that flux, heating them as well.

Attempts to resolve these problems include Bussard
Robert W. Bussard
Robert W. Bussard was an American physicist who worked primarily in nuclear fusion energy research. He was the recipient of the Schreiber-Spence Achievement Award for STAIF-2004. He was also a fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics and held a Ph.D...

's Polywell
Polywell
A polywell device is a type of fusion reactor that was originated by Robert Bussard under a U.S. Navy research contract. It traps electrons in a magnetic confinement inside its hollow center. The negatively charged electrons then accelerate positively charged ions for the purpose of achieving...

 system, D. C. Barnes' modified Penning trap
Penning trap
Penning traps are devices for the storage of charged particles using a homogeneous static magnetic field and a spatially inhomogeneous static electric field. This kind of trap is particularly well suited to precision measurements of properties of ions and stable subatomic particles which have...

 approach, and the University of Illinois's fusor which retains grids but attempts to more tightly focus the ions into microchannels to attempt to avoid losses. While all three are IEC devices, only the last is actually a "fusor".

Bremsstrahlung



One oft-presented concern is bremsstrahlung
Bremsstrahlung
Bremsstrahlung is electromagnetic radiation produced by the deceleration of a charged particle when deflected by another charged particle, typically an electron by an atomic nucleus. The moving particle loses kinetic energy, which is converted into a photon because energy is conserved. The term is...

. In Fundamental limitations on plasma fusion systems not in thermodynamic equilibrium, Todd Rider shows that a quasineutral isotropic plasma will lose energy due to Bremsstrahlung at a rate prohibitive for any fuel other than D-T (or possibly D-D or D-He3). This paper is not applicable to IEC fusion, as a quasineutral plasma cannot be contained by an electric field, which is a fundamental part of IEC fusion. However, in a further paper, "A general critique of inertial-electrostatic confinement fusion systems", Rider addresses the common IEC devices directly, including the fusor. In the case of the fusor the electrons are generally separated from the mass of the fuel isolated near the electrodes, which limits the loss rate. However, Rider demonstrates that practical fusors operate in a range of modes that either lead to significant electron mixing and losses, or alternately lower power densities. This appears to be a sort of catch-22
Catch-22
Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953, and the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II in 1943 and is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century...

 that limits the output of any fusor-like system.

Use as a neutron source

Production source
Neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

s
Energy 2.45 MeV
MEV
MeV and meV are multiples and submultiples of the electron volt unit referring to 1,000,000 eV and 0.001 eV, respectively.Mev or MEV may refer to:In entertainment:* Musica Elettronica Viva, an Italian musical group...

Mass 940 MeV
MEV
MeV and meV are multiples and submultiples of the electron volt unit referring to 1,000,000 eV and 0.001 eV, respectively.Mev or MEV may refer to:In entertainment:* Musica Elettronica Viva, an Italian musical group...

Electric charge 0 C
Spin 1/2

Regardless of its possible use as an energy source, the fusor has already been demonstrated as a viable neutron source
Neutron source
A Neutron source is a device that emits neutrons. There is a wide variety of different sources, ranging from hand-held radioactive sources to neutron research facilities operating research reactors and spallation sources...

. Fluxes are not as high as can be obtained from nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 or particle accelerator
Particle accelerator
A particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...

 sources, but are sufficient for many uses. Importantly, the neutron generator
Neutron generator
Neutron generators are neutron source devices which contain compact linear accelerators and that produce neutrons by fusing isotopes of hydrogen together. The fusion reactions take place in these devices by accelerating either deuterium, tritium, or a mixture of these two isotopes into a metal...

 easily sits on a benchtop, and can be turned off at the flick of a switch. A commercial fusor was developed as a non-core business within DaimlerChrysler Aerospace - Space Infrastructure, Bremen between 1996 and early 2001. After the project was effectively ended, the former project manager established a company which is called NSD-Fusion http://www.nsd-fusion.com.

Patents

  • Bennett, W. H., , February 1964. (Thermonuclear power)
  • P.T. Farnsworth, , June 1966 (Electric discharge — Nuclear interaction)
  • P.T. Farnsworth, . June 1968 (Method and apparatus)
  • Hirsch, Robert, . September 1970 (Apparatus)
  • Hirsch, Robert, . September 1970 (Generating apparatus — Hirsch/Meeks)
  • Hirsch, Robert, . October 1970 (Lithium-Ion source)
  • Hirsch, Robert, . April 1972 (Reduce plasma leakage)
  • P.T. Farnsworth, . May 1972 (Electrostatic containment)
  • R.W. Bussard, "Method and apparatus for controlling charged particles", , May 1989 (Method and apparatus — Magnetic grid fields).
  • R.W. Bussard, "Method and apparatus for creating and controlling nuclear fusion reactions", , November 1992 (Method and apparatus — Ion acoustic waves).

Further reading


  • Reducing the Barriers to Fusion Electric Power; G.L. Kulcinski and J.F. Santarius, October 1997 Presented at "Pathways to Fusion Power", submitted to Journal of Fusion Energy, vol. 17, No. 1, 1998. (Abstract in PDF
    Portable Document Format
    Portable Document Format is an open standard for document exchange. This file format, created by Adobe Systems in 1993, is used for representing documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems....

    )
  • Robert L. Hirsch, "Inertial-Electrostatic Confinement of Ionized Fusion Gases", Journal of Applied Physics, v. 38, no. 7, October 1967
  • Irving Langmuir
    Irving Langmuir
    Irving Langmuir was an American chemist and physicist. His most noted publication was the famous 1919 article "The Arrangement of Electrons in Atoms and Molecules" in which, building on Gilbert N. Lewis's cubical atom theory and Walther Kossel's chemical bonding theory, he outlined his...

    , Katharine B. Blodgett, "Currents limited by space charge between concentric spheres" Physical Review, vol. 24, No. 1, pp49–59, 1924
  • R. A. Anderl, J. K. Hartwell, J. H. Nadler, J. M. DeMora, R. A. Stubbers, and G. H. Miley, Development of an IEC Neutron Source for NDE, 16th Symposium on Fusion Engineering, eds. G. H. Miley and C. M. Elliott, IEEE Conf. Proc. 95CH35852, IEEE Piscataway, NJ, 1482–1485 (1996).
  • "On the Inertial-Electrostatic Confinement of a Plasma" William C. Elmore, James L. Tuck, Kenneth M. Watson, "The Physics of Fluids" v. 2, no 3, May–June, 1959; R.P. Ashley, G.L. Kulcinski, J.F. Santarius, S. Krupakar Murali, G. Piefer; IEEE Publication 99CH37050, pg. 35-37, 18th Symposium on Fusion Engineering, Albuquerque NM, 25–29 October 1999.
  • G.L. Kulcinski, Progress in Steady State Fusion of Advanced Fuels in the University of Wisconsin IEC Device, March 2001
  • Fusion Reactivity Characterization of a Spherically Convergent Ion Focus, T.A. Thorson, R.D. Durst, R.J. Fonck, A.C. Sontag, Nuclear Fusion, Vol. 38, No. 4. p. 495, April 1998. (abstract)
  • Convergence, Electrostatic Potential, and Density Measurements in a Spherically Convergent Ion Focus, T. A. Thorson, R. D. Durst, R. J. Fonck, and L. P. Wainwright, Phys. Plasma, 4:1, January 1997.
  • R.W. Bussard and L. W. Jameson, "Inertial-Electrostatic Propulsion Spectrum: Airbreathing to Interstellar Flight", Journal of Propulsion and Power, v 11, no 2. The authors describe the proton — Boron 11 reaction and its application to ionic electrostatic confinement.
  • R.W. Bussard and L. W. Jameson, "Fusion as Electric Propulsion", Journal of Propulsion and Power, v 6, no 5, September–October, 1990 (This is the same Bussard who conceived the Bussard Ramjet widely used in science-fiction for interstellar rocketry)
  • Todd H. Rider, "A general critique of inertial-electrostatic confinement fusion systems", M.S. thesis at MIT, 1994.
  • Todd H. Rider, "Fundamental limitations on plasma fusion systems not in thermodynamic equilibrium", Ph. D. thesis at MIT, 1995.
  • Todd H. Rider, "Fundamental limitations on plasma fusion systems not in thermodynamic equilibrium" Physics of Plasmas, April 1997, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp. 1039–1046.
  • Could Advanced Fusion Fuels Be Used with Today's Technology?; J.F. Santarius, G.L. Kulcinski, L.A. El-Guebaly, H.Y. Khater, January 1998 [presented at Fusion Power Associates Annual Meeting, 27–29 August 1997, Aspen CO; Journal of Fusion Energy, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1998, p. 33].
  • R.W. Bussard and L. W. Jameson, "From SSTO to Saturn's Moons, Superperformance Fusion Propulsion for Practical Spaceflight", 30th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 27–29 June 1994, AIAA-94-3269
  • Robert W. Bussard presentation video to Google Employees — Google TechTalks, 9 November 2006.
  • "The Advent of Clean Nuclear Fusion: Super-performance Space Power and Propulsion", Robert W. Bussard, Ph.D., 57th International Astronautical Congress, 2–6 October 2006.


External links