Harvard, Princeton scientists make AI breakthrough for fusion energy

Monday, April 22, 2019 - 16:10 in Physics & Chemistry

For decades, scientists have been trying to develop clean, limitless energy by re-creating the conditions at the center of the sun here on Earth. But if nuclear fusion is to be practical for electricity production, that immense, raging power must be controlled. “When the plasma in a fusion experiment becomes unstable, it can escape confinement and touch the wall of the machine, causing severe damage and sometimes even melting or vaporizing components,” said Julian Kates-Harbeck, a physics Ph.D. student and a Department of Energy (DOE) Computational Science Graduate Fellow. “If you could predict those escapes, or ‘disruptions,’ you could mitigate their effects and build in safety protocols that would cool the plasma down gently and keep it from damaging the machine.” In a new study published in Nature and led by the U.S. DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Kates-Harbeck and his colleagues created a “deep learning” artificial intelligence (AI) code to...

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