Could Sonic Cavitation Drive Fusion Reactions?

In research initiated and funded by Impulse Devices, Inc. (IDI), we have begun to explore the feasibility of improving on the well-known phenomenon of "sonoluminescence" to drive nuclear fusion reactions (we'll call this "Sonic Fusion", though the concept has also been called "Sonofusion" or "Bubble Fusion" ). It is a "cousin" of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF), except that we attempt to use a sound field as a driver instead of a laser or heavy-ion beam. As we use the term, Sonic Fusion is a "hot" fusion process, dependent upon proven physical concepts, and it is not related to "cold fusion." (Readers should be aware that other workers discuss variants of the approach that rely upon cold fusion mechanisms-- we prefer to call these "cold sonofusion" schemes. In our view, these approaches generally rely upon unknown or anomalous physical processes.)

Work on this project during the years 2000-2002 included these main thrusts:

Some of the work performed on the Sonic Fusion project to date is described in two ANSR technical reports...

On the cover of Science Magazine, dated March 8, 2002, the editors featured an article by Taleyarkhan, et al., who claim to have achieved nuclear reactions in a desktop-scale sonoluminescence experiment. Our calculations predict that Sonic Fusion won't be this easy! However, if you'd like to see what the controversy is about (we're not the only skeptics in the field), the original article and some perspectives are available on the Science Magazine web site. Also, a broader description of the article and the related scientific debate are presented on the Science News web site. The journal Nature also offers a balanced commentary called "Nuclear flash in a pan." Additional work is needed to determine the validity of the Taleyarkhan experiment. 2008 Update: The resolution of this matter (summarized at involves a sad story of misconduct on the part of Taleyarkhan and poor handling of the peer review process on the part of Science Magazine. At its conclusion, there is no confirming evidence that significant levels of fusion occurred in the experiments Taleyarkhan performed. Published work by Camara, Hopkins, Suslick and Putterman (Phys. Rev. Lett., Feb. 9, 2007) presents strong evidence that significant fusion does not occur under the conditions studied.

Flannigan & Suslick reported in Nature 434, 52 (2005) that they have been able to measure the temperature near stagnation in a single bubble collapse. This provides the most direct evidence to date that bubble collapse can create a hot plasma. For more information online, visit "news @".

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