Glossary

Astrophysics
the study of the physics of stars, galaxies, and the interstellar medium.

Atom
the smallest constituent of an element having all the chemical characteristics of that element.  It consists of a nucleus made of protons and neutrons surrounded by a system of electrons.

Burn wave
energy from fusion reactions in inertial confinement can initiate further reactions in adjacent regions of fuel until all the fuel has been burnt via this process.

Capsule
a spherical shell (usually with multiple layers) of deuterium tritium fuel that is imploded in inertial confinement fusion.

Compression
the process of reducing in size or pressing together with an associated increase in density.

Confinement
the process of confining fusion plasmas so that the hot plasma does not expand or touch vessel walls, stopping the fusion process.

DT fuel
fusion fuel composed of two isotopes of hydrogen; deuterium and tritium (DT).

Electric field
a description of the properties of space that surround a region of electric charge. If the charge is moving then there is an associated magnetic field.

Electron
a negatively charged sub-atomic particle that is a constituent of all matter.

Fusion energy
the energy produced when two light nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus.

Gold cone
insert into spherical fuel capsule in fast ignition.

High energy-density physics
the study of matter that has an energy density of 1011 joules per cubic meter (J/m3). This includes the study of the interaction of this matter with itself, radiation and particle beams.

Implosion
a violent collapse or compressing of matter inwards.

Inertial fusion/Inertial confinement fusion
a method of producing fusion energy by compressing a fuel capsule made to high density.

Inertial fusion reactor
a reactor that is powered by reactions generated through inertial confinement fusion.

Ion
an atom of an element that has had some electrons removed, making it positively charged.

Irradiate
the act of illuminating material with radiation.

Isotope
an atom that has more neutrons in the nucleus than its stable counterpart.  For example: Hydrogen has one electron and a nucleus containing one proton, Deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) has one electron plus a nucleus containing one proton and one neutron.

kj
Kilojoules (a Joule is a unit of energy and a kilo joule is 1000 joules)

Long pulse laser - see short pulse laser

Magnetic confinement fusion
method of confining a fusion plasma using electric and magnetic fields so as to keep the plasma away from the vessel walls.

Magnetic field
field arising due to moving electrical charges.

Neutron
an uncharged sub-atomic particle with a mass slightly greater than a proton. Neutrons appear in all nuclei except hydrogen.

Nuclear physics
the study of the atomic nucleus and its interactions with other nuclei.

Nuclei
the central part of atoms, consisting of a number of protons and neutrons.

Particle acceleration
the act of accelerating elementary particles to high energies to study their interactions.

Plasma
a plasma is an ionized gas that consists of electrons and ions, and behaves under the influence of electric and magnetic fields.

Plasma physics
the study of the interaction of plasma with itself, particle beams and radiation.

Proton
a positively charged sub-atomic particle that appears in the nucleus of every singe element.

Shock waves
a disturbance that propagates through a medium (or through a field) accompanied by a sudden change in the characteristics of the medium.

Short pulse laser
relative term for the comparison between the compression lasers and heating lasers in fast ignition. Long pulse lasers are usually nanoseconds in length (10-9 Seconds) and short pulse lasers are picoseconds or less (10-12 seconds).