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By Vena Carter
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One of the earliest serious and large scale attempts at an ICF driver design was the Shiva laser, a 20-beam neodymium doped glass laser system built at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) that started operation in 1978. Shiva was a "proof of concept" design intended to demonstrate compression of fusion fuel capsules to many times the liquid density of hydrogen. In this, Shiva succeeded and compressed its pellets to 100 times the liquid density of deuterium. However, due to the laser's strong coupling with hot electrons, premature heating of the dense plasma (ions) was problematic and fusion yields were low.
Eventually, the bind ing energy becomes negative and very heavy nuclei (all with more than 208 nucleons, corresponding to a diameter of about 6 nucleons) are not stable. The four most tightly bound nuclei, in decreasing order of binding energy, are 62 Ni, 58 Fe, 56 Fe, and 60Ni. Even though the nickel isotope ,62 Ni, is more stable, the iron isotope 56 Fe is an order of magnitude more common. This is due to a greater disintegration rate for 62 Ni in the interior of stars driven by photon absorption.
There are two approaches to solving this problem. One is to try to stop up the ends with a magnetic mirror, the other is to eliminate the ends altogether by bending the field lines around to close on themselves. A simple toroidal field, however, provides poor confinement because the radial gradient of the field strength results in a drift in the direction of the axis. Magnetic mirrors A major area of research in the early years of fusion energy research was the magnetic mirror. Most early mirror devices attempted to confine plasma near the foc us of a nonplanar magnetic field, or to be more precise, two such mirrors located close to each other and oriented at right angles.