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V4F aims to show proof-of-principle of a new technology capable of unprecedented control over interactions of light with specially synthesised targets that significantly improve the energy balance of aneutronic fusion reactions.

Nuclear fusion is a process where two atomic nuclei combine to form one or more different atomic nuclei and sub-atomic particles. Aneutronic nuclear fusion is where the fusion reaction does not produce any free neutrons. Aneutronic fusion is an ideal basis for the production of energy because no radioactive waste can be produced without neutrons, and all the energy produced is in the form of charged particles which is electricity. 

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V4F will design and test new concepts and advanced simulations of inertial confinement of aneutronic fusion reactions and particle acceleration will inform pioneering experiments in high-energy light/matter-interactions. Results could offer the prospect of breakthrough increases in alpha-particle yields from fusion reactions and mitigate the instabilities found in conventional fusion reactions.

Recent results from the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have demonstrated fusion ‘energy-gain’ – where more fusion energy is output than input. The challenge addressed by V4F is to enable reproduction of the same effect much more easily, reproducibly and cheaply in order to make the possibility of unlimited green-energy fusion a reality.

The work of V4F also offers the tantalising possibility of radical new configurations of particle accelerators, leading to efficient positron beam acceleration. The results will benefit society with significant downscaling of positron accelerators 1,000 times smaller than is currently possible.  As such, the future International Linear Collider planned in Japan with a length of 31 km, could be as short as 31 m.  The capability to design an efficient positron beam system could impact the potential use in proton beam therapy treating specific types of cancer and this could be developed within 10 years.

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