Researchers sound out new fusion technique

A team of researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, and the Russian Academy of Sciences claim to have used sound waves to induce nuclear fusion without the need for an external neutron source.


A team of researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, and the RussianAcademy of Sciences have claimed in a paper that they have used sound waves to induce nuclear fusion without the need for an external neutron source.


By bombarding a special mixture of acetone and benzene with oscillating sound waves, the researchers caused bubbles in the mixture to expand and then violently collapse. This technique, dubbed “sonofusion,” produces a shock wave that has the potential to fuse nuclei together, according to the team.


The occurrence of fusion is usually indicated by the production of neutrons. Earlier experiments used an external neutron source to produce the bubbles, and it was difficult to prove that the neutrons detected came from the fusion that took place rather than from the external source.


For the latest experiment, the researchers dissolved natural uranium in the solution, which produces bubbles through radioactive decay and obviates the need to use an external neutron source. This made the results clearer to observe without the possible influence of external neutrons.


The new device was built solely for research purposes and currently uses much more energy than it releases, but it could prove to be an inexpensive and portable source of neutrons for sensing and imaging applications.