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Researchers have reportedly taken one small yet giant step towards “perfect power” — fusion, the process that powers the sun and may ultimately solve the world’s energy problems.

Fusion is similar to fission, where atoms are split releasing massive amounts of energy. But instead of being torn apart, fusion welds atoms together. It’s a perfect power because more energy is released than used, and a sort of holy grail for physicists.

To attempt it, scientists at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Labs in California use an ultrapowerful laser system, which melds 192 laser beams into a single incredible burst of energy that heats and compress a capsule of hydrogen fuel to the point at which fusion take place. 

The result of a late September test: the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction was greater than the amount of energy used, the BBC reported.

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  • National Ignition Facility Precision.jpg

    Before each experiment, a positioner precisely centers the target inside the target chamber and serves as a reference to align the laser beams. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

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