Long Confinement Inertial Electrostatic Fusion
Inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) has long been accepted as a viable technology for development of a portable neutron source, however its reliance on non-Maxwellian ion distributions beyond the thermalization time scale is popularly viewed as the fundamental reason they cannot be used for power generation. Despite this popular view, methods have been found by a few research groups that appear to offer solutions to this problem. One such approach is the Periodically Oscillating Plasma Sphere (POPS) concept by Barnes and Nebel at Los Alamos National Laboratory, whereby ions are phase-locked as they oscillate in a harmonic potential well. As a result, all thermalizing collisions take place at the center of the well and therefore cause only radial thermalization, rather than defocusing.