Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 36 / Number 2 / September 1999 / Pages 219-233
With 180 MJ/g, antiprotons offer the highest stored energy per unit mass of any known entity. The use of antiprotons to promote fast ignition in an inertial confinement fusion (ICF) capsule and produce high target gains with only modest compression of the main fuel is investigated. Unlike standard fast ignition where the ignition energy is supplied by an energetic, short pulse laser, the energy here is supplied through the ionization energy deposited when antiprotons annihilate at the center of a compressed fuel capsule. This can be considered in-situ fast ignition as it obviates the need for the external injection of the ignition energy. In the first of two candidate schemes, the antiproton package is delivered by a low-energy ion beam. In the second, autocatalytic scheme, the antiprotons are preemplaced at the center of the capsule prior to compression. In both schemes, we estimate that ~1012 antiprotons are required to initiate fast ignition in a typical ICF capsule and show that incorporation of a thin, heavy metal shell is desirable to enhance energy deposition within the ignitor zone. In addition to eliminating the need for a second, energetic fast laser and vulnerable final optics, this scheme would achieve central ignition without reliance on laser channeling through halo plasma or Hohlraum debris. However, in addition to the practical difficulties of storage and manipulation of antiprotons at low energy, the other large uncertainty for the practicality of such a speculative scheme is the ultimate efficiency of antiproton production in an external, optimized facility. Estimates suggest that the electrical wall plug energy per pulse required for the separate production of the antiprotons is of the same order as that required for the conventional slow compression driver.