Thales Group and Marvel Fusion team up to expand the laser system installed at ELI-NP

The French group Thales and the German company Marvel Fusion will cooperate to expand the laser system installed at ELI-NP, in order to validate some key aspects of the technology proposed by Marvel Fusion for obtaining fusion energy, the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization announced on Tuesday.

According to the cited source, the two companies will collaborate with the ELI-NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics) Research Center in Magurele, Romania to expand the high-power laser system in order to carry out research relevant to nuclear fusion, as a new source of energy for the future.

During 2023, the three partners plan to improve the parameters of the laser system, such as the temporal contrast of the laser pulse, which will allow obtaining unique capabilities necessary for the research of laser-based fusion processes. After the successful completion of the proposed adaptations, Marvel Fusion will become the first private company to establish a scientific collaboration with ELI-NP, due to the complementary applicability of the Romanian laser system and the technology proposed by Marvel Fusion.

As part of the ongoing cooperation with ELI-NP, Thales will supply a new laser pulse time-spreader unit, which will initially reduce the peak power. The extended, less powerful pulses can then be amplified and compressed. This process is part of the CPA (Chirped Pulse Amplification) method, for the development of which Dr. Donna Strickland and Dr. Gérard Mourou were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018. Gérard Mourou is part of the company’s Science and Technology Committee Marvel Fusion.The experimental campaign will be initiated in 2023, in partnership by Marvel Fusion and Thales at the ELI-NP Center and will aim to validate the key parameters of the laser-matter interaction between high-intensity laser pulses with durations of tens of femtoseconds (a femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second) and nanostructured fuel targets. During the experiments, the scientists will examine the essential physical processes of the interaction and their optimization. Later, the results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, in the common effort to advance in the field of research on laser-matter interaction,” the Ministry’s press release states.

With the potential to sustainably replace fossil fuels as a primary energy source, fusion energy is widely regarded as the most promising solution to climate change and the current energy crisis.

Based on the results from ELI-NP and the cooperation with Thales, Marvel Fusion aims to present the basic elements of its new technology within 3 years, as a precursor to building, towards the 2030s, the first commercial power plants. Therefore, new technologies will be able to increase the economic resilience of the Union and contribute to the decarbonisation of the continent, according to the European Green Deal.

“Fusion based on state-of-the-art short-pulse lasers can enable the EU to guarantee an advanced energy system,” said Franck Leibreich, General Manager Laser Solutions of the Thales Group.

Thales joined the ELI-NP project in 2013 to design and implement the laser system. The construction was completed in 2019 when, for the first time, the laser pulse reached the maximum power of 10 PetaWatt. With two laser beams reaching 10 PW each, ELI-NP houses the world’s most powerful short-pulse laser system for research in fields ranging from laser nuclear physics to ion therapy for cancer treatment to astrophysical processes.

“10 PW is an amazing power level for laser systems. Conducting experiments at ELI-NP means entering a validation phase of our technology, during which we will be able to draw direct physical conclusions about scalable models of our structures for targets and laser-target interaction,” stated Dr. Georg Korn, Director technician at Marvel Fusion and former scientific director at ELI.

ELI-NPexpandExtreme Light Infrastructure ‘Nuclear Physics’lasesMagurele laserMarvel Fusionnuclearresearch centerRomaniateam upThales Group
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