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Fusion and atomic states

  1. Apr 4, 2008 #1
    To initiate fusion, it says that the nuclei of each atom need to come into contact. And these atoms therefore need to be fully ionised for this to occur.

    Does FULLY ionised mean that the atoms have lost ALL their electrons?

    thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2008 #2
    I don't think not being ionized is a problem at all. It's just that at temperatures high enough to get fusion, the atoms, wich are all light atoms with just a few electrons, will be fully ionised.
  4. Apr 5, 2008 #3


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    Fusion reactors as well as bombs use isotopes of hydrogen, so that the atoms have only one electron to start with.
  5. Apr 5, 2008 #4
    At the temperature around 15 million kelvins in the core of the sun, you couldn't get any electrons to remain with protons or with nuclei.
  6. Apr 5, 2008 #5
    I believe Lithium is also used.
  7. Apr 6, 2008 #6


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    Lithium is used in some designs because when it is bombarded with nuetrons it produces the hydrogen isotope tritium, which can be sued as fuel but is extremely difficult to store, so it needs to be manufactured and then used straight away.

    As for ionization being necessary;

    I think the main reason for this is that it is impossible (or at least difficult in the extreme) to bring two atomic nuclei into direct contact with one another (within range of the strong nuclear force) if they still have electron shells.
  8. Apr 10, 2008 #7
    You can easily generate DT fusion neutrons by bombarding a tritiated solid target with deuterons, so you don't have to ionize the atoms to get fusion. You do have to ionize everything, however (according to all currently-believable theories), in order to generate plasma conditions that would allow significant fusion energy gain.
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