Fusion: on the sun, in our fusor, and on other stars – By Jack Bodine

Introduction Nuclear fusion is a process where two or more nuclei are combined to produce different combinations of protons and neutrons.[1] Despite how technological it might sound, nuclear fusion occurs naturally throughout the universe in stars. This fusion, however, is vastly different from fusion done by fusor enthusiasts in IEC fusion reactors. The fusion processes in stars even vary depending on the type and temperature of the star.[2] Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Commonly called a Farnsworth–Hirsch…

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What is Deuterium? – By Kiana Walter

We will be fusing deuterium gas in our nuclear reactor. But what is deuterium and what makes it special? Deuterium is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. Deuterium has one proton and one neutron in the nucleus. Protium, the other stable isotope, has a proton and no neutrons. Thus, deuterium is twice as massive as protium. Tritium, while an unstable isotope, is the only other naturally occurring isotope and has two neutrons in addition…

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Life as a University of Puget Sound Physics Major – By Sophia Pettitt-Kenney

While I certainly can’t presume to speak for every physics major, past, present, and future, at the University of Puget Sound, I can discuss my own experiences of my time here at the school and within the physics department. When I came to UPS nearly four years ago, I was entirely uncertain about what my path would be. I was interested in STEM, physics specifically, but I was also interested in politics, writing, and environmental…

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Charged Particle Scattering – By Sophia Pettitt-Kenney

Particle scattering is a phenomenon that happens all the time, and all around us, though we can’t see it. Essentially, particle scattering is what happens when a moving particle (or multiple particles) hits an obstacle in its path and “scatters” in another direction. If we imagine what’s going on in a nuclear reactor, it’s obvious we’re going to be seeing a lot of particle scattering. Simply put, when we run the reactor we’re putting gas…

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What is Quantum Tunneling – By Daniel Scarbrough

Quantum tunneling is a very complex phenomenon that doesn’t listen to the classical laws of physics. So much so that it’s in its own category called quantum mechanics. I will explain the basics of one of its principles called Quantum Tunneling as well as go through a fun thought experiment of whether or not it’s possible for a human to quantum tunnel. For starters, it’s important to understand that Quantum Tunneling doesn’t fall under classical…

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The History of Nuclear Fusion – By Ouyang Du

Our story starts in the year 1905(1). During this year Albert Einstein came out with his famous equation E=mc2. The significance of this equation is that it related mass to energy. It showed that massive amounts of energy were stored in the form of mass. In 1920 Francis W. Aston was able to precisely measure the atoms masses of hydrogen nuclei and helium nuclei and show that four hydrogen nuclei are heavier than a helium…

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The Coulomb Force – By Kobi Hall

Inside the reactor, the vacuum chamber will be filled with a gas of positively charged ions. Whether it’s Helium atoms to produce plasma or Hydrogen isotopes for fusion, it’s helpful for us to study the kinetics and dynamics of individual particles. There are four fundamental forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. In our reactor, gravity is negligible, and the weak nuclear force isn’t present at all. In another blog…

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The Strong Force – By Lukas Karoly
Figure 1. Table of the Standard Model showing the various elementary particles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Standard_Model_of_Elementary_Particles.svg

The Strong Force – By Lukas Karoly

            In an introductory physics course, you learn about a diverse range of forces—friction, normal force, tension, spring force, etc. The majority of these forces are non-fundamental forces, and all boil down to four fundamental forces: gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. The first two are probably the most familiar, and for good reason. The majority of forces that we experience every day, such as simple pushing or…

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What is a Fusor? – By Noah Liebnitz
Fig. 2. The Hirsch-Meeks fusor, a closely related model of the original Farnsworth-Hirsch design (Klopfer 2012).

What is a Fusor? – By Noah Liebnitz

What is a Fusor...?  (By Noah Liebnitz) We can actually answer that question simply: a fusor is a device designed to fuse atoms. While this gets to the heart of the matter rather quickly, it is not particularly enlightening, nor is it completely correct. In reality, there are a number of devices designed to generate fusion reactions. Typically, when people use the word “fusor,” they are referring to the machine first built by Philo Farnsworth…


Gas Valves

Sophia and Kobi installed two gas valves to the chamber, one for gas injection and one for pressure release. We installed tubing on the helium tank, so we now can directly hook the helium up to the vacuum chamber. With the new valves attached pressure leaks a little again, so we need to tighten everything up on them. All that we need to obtain plasma is an electrical system


Steady Vacuum!

Today Sophia, Kiana, and Brett installed the electrode, tightened EVERY SINGLE BOLT, and removed the mass spec sensor. We managed to maintain a 5e-10 Torr vacuum with very little (but not zero) loss. (Is it normal to slowly lose some vacuum in a system like this?) In any case, it seems that we're ready for the next steps: power and gas.


New Lab and Vacuum Sensors

We moved into our new lab today! We have significantly more space now. Kobi and Brett installed the second vacuum sensor and removed the top section. We reached 5e-10 Torr before shutting it down—far lower than what we need for fusion! We noticed that the system has a very slight leak somewhere in the chamber which will require further investigation.