The possibility of triggering an avalanche reaction in laser-driven p-11B fusion by the effect of collisional energy transfer from α particles to protons has recently been debated, especially in connection to the high yield of α particles (4 × 108 per laser shot) achieved on engineered targets at the Prague Asterix Laser System (PALS), with a pulse of 500 J, 0.3 ns FWHM. We elucidate this controversial subject within the framework of a simple two-population model for protons, based on the binary collision theory in a plasma. We find an avalanche characteristic time of almost 1 μs for the 675 keV fusion cross section resonance in typical PALS plasma, upon idealized confinement conditions. This avalanche time is one order of magnitude higher than previously reported, meaning that no such process can substantially develop in plasma at the PALS on the 675 keV resonance, not even in the most optimistic confinement scenarios. Nevertheless, we put forward for further investigation that more realistic conditions for setting up the avalanche regime could rather be attained by suitably targeting the narrow 163 keV resonance in the fusion cross section, also in connection to recently proposed laser-driven magnetic trapping techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics