The Power of Light

The U.S. has finished constructing a huge physics experiment aimed at recreating conditions at the heart of our Sun.

The U.S. National Ignition Facility is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of nuclear fusion, a process that could offer abundant clean energy.

The lab will kick-start the reaction by focusing 192 giant laser beams on a tiny pellet of hydrogen fuel.

To work, it must show that more energy can be extracted from the process than is required to initiate it.

Professor Mike Dunne, who leads a European venture that is also pursuing nuclear fusion with lasers, told BBC News that if NIF was successful, it would be a "seismic event".

"It would mark the transition for laser fusion from 'physics' to 'engineering reality'," he said.

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— For more information, visit the National Ignition Facility & Photon Science