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If you strip the valence electrons apart with a very short intense electromagnetic field the remaining core explodes in a so called coulomb explosion.

But experiments have shown that under certain cases fusion does occur in a manner, that the ions are accelerated and you get a non maxwellian velocity distribution. Can you explain the process a little bit more and show how it is possible to overcome the nuclear repulsion for fusion?

The wikipedia page to this topic is a little bit missleading, so I give you a paper Efficient fusion neutron generation from heteronuclear clusters in intense femtosecond laser fields that this kind of fusion is indeed possible and experimentally proven.

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Both the abstracts that you point to in the comments say the same thing

Recent experiments on the interaction of intense, ultrafast pulses with large van der Waals bonded clusters have shown that these clusters can explode with sufficient kinetic energy to drive nuclear fusion.

In other words, the cluster comes apart energetically, and the bits flying off have enough kinetic energy to initiate fusion when they hit a stationary target nearby (presumably other clusters in the same substrate).

That is: this is not a direct fusion process, but a new way to get the high velocities needed for fusion.

Very interesting.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thats the abstract but I am a bit suspicious. People were giving so many arguments in physics.stackexchange.com/questions/3799/… . I am hoping this people explain coulomb explosion induced fusion and why the people at National Ignition Facility use the lasers just for heating. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2012 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ You have to understand that these kinds of high-field short-time laser physics experiments are very new. They were not technologically feasible until very recently (as in those fm s lasers were brand new around 2000, and they are still increasing the field strengths and decreasing the time scales). It's a hot field and there is a lot of very basic development work going on. Nor does either abstract say anything about the amount of energy needed to initiate fusion this way. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2012 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ Another note: looking at the "citing articles{+}" tab for the Phys. Rev. paper suggest that there has been considerable work on this topic from other laboratories in the intervening time. {+} 153 of them which is quite a respectable number. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2012 at 18:36
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The Coulomb explosion is secondary and doesn't cause fusion at all! The extraordinary flux of (visible light or IR) photons induce a very particular situation where Coulombs law is locally reversed; electrons are repelled from the nuclei (and thrown away with great velocity) and the nuclei (at least some of them) are drawn to one another. Same thing happens in a H-bomb, only then it's soft X-rays that does the trick.

Then, after the fusion reactions have actually occurred, there is a excess of positive charge in a small spot, and the whole shebang 'explodes'. I think this can be proven by exact measurements of the timing of the primary gamma rays from the fusion events.

N.B., if deuterated plastic is used, the carbon nuclei do not participate in the nuclear reactions simply because there isn't time to completely ionize them. The time dilation may also be insufficiently strong to induce fusion in them.

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    $\begingroup$ This is completely wrong and describes the process in the opposite order of what actually happens. $\endgroup$ Nov 5, 2017 at 19:34

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