In laser confinement fusion experiments, lasers heat a fuel composed of deuterium and tritium ions to form a plasma, and the extreme high temperature and pressure state triggers the fusion reaction.
The energy generated by this reaction heats the material, creating higher temperatures that create more violent reactions that lead to uncontrolled heat and combustion.
To further study the reaction in thermonuclear combustion plasmas, the researchers analyzed the distribution of neutrons produced in the fusion reaction and measured the temperatures of deuterium and tritium ions.
The authors observed more ions with higher energies than in past experiments with non-combustion plasmas.
They suggest that this indicates that the plasma behaves differently at the onset of thermonuclear combustion.
These findings may lead to new insights for the future design of laser fusion energy sources.
A related paper was published in Nature Physics.