Energy generated through fusion reactions is one of the most efficient forms of energy, but the fusion reactors can be extremely unstable and dangerous to people working around them.
Nuclear fusion occurs when nuclei of two atoms come together and combine to produce a new element with a higher atomic number. This reaction is the complete opposite of fission reaction, and this is the same reaction that powers the sun.
Scientists have been on a hunt for finding different ways to make the reaction more stable and safer, and a team of physicists from Princeton University have finally made a breakthrough.
The problem arises when the plasma that is used to fuel the reactor becomes extremely hot which makes it unpredictable and difficult to manage.
The physicists from Princeton University wrote in their recent study, “RF current condensation in the presence of turbulent enhanced transport”, that plasma could be molded in such a way that it reacts in a way we want it to. Magnetic Islands is where the real trouble begins. These are bubble-like structures that are capable of releasing a high amount of energy, unpredictably, at any given point. This can make fusion reactions extremely dangerous.
Sending radio waves through a fusion reaction can decrease the chance of these Magnet Islands from building up, hence making the reaction safer.
What the radio waves do is that they hinder the flow of plasma to keep the temperature under check. In this way, the radio waves basically disrupt the disruption, thus making the fusion reactions more safer and stable.
E. Rodríguez, A. H. Reiman, N. J. Fisch. RF current condensation in the presence of turbulent enhanced transport. Physics of Plasmas 27, 042306 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0001881