We spoke with Prof. Dimitri Batani about his role as Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue ‘Advances In the Study of Laser-Driven Proton-Boron Fusion’ in Laser and Particle Beams. Prof. Batani is currently based at the Centre Lasers Intenses et Applications (CELIA) at the University of Bordeaux, researching plasma physics. He has authored more than 450 SCI indexed publications, is a member of both the Institut Universitaire de France and the European Academy of Sciences (EURASC), as well as a fellow of the European Physical Society (EPS).
What is your background and how did you become a researcher in your field?
My background is in physics, in particular the physics of lasers and plasmas. Since high school, I have always thought of research as an interesting activity, and I chose physics at university both because I found it interesting and challenging, as well as because I thought (and still think) that science can give you a vision of the world.
I completed my PhD in Pisa, following which I became a researcher and professor at the University of Milano Bicocca in Italy. Ten years ago I moved to the University of Bordeaux in France, where I have been responsible for the project ‘PETAL+’, which is dedicated to realising the plasma diagnostics for the ‘Laser Mega-Joule/PETAL’ facility. This facility is home to the second biggest laser in the world, after the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in the United States.
Laser and Particle Beams is an international journal that deals with basic physics issues of intense laser and particle beams, and the interaction of these beams with matter. What have been the key developments in the field over the past year?
This last year has been marked by the exceptional result obtained at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) on inertial confinement fusion. They finally approached ‘breakeven’, meaning the energy released by the nuclear fusion reactions was almost equal to the energy delivered by the lasers and used to compress and heat the target.
This result makes the future use of nuclear fusion as an energy source more concrete. It now becomes possible to begin to think about the next steps, one of which is certainly proton-boron fusion which, although incredibly challenging from the scientific and technological point of view, offers the big advantage of not producing neutrons, therefore enormously reducing the amount of radioactive waste.
Another important development over the past years has been the possibility of using high-intensity laser beams as a driver for intense sources of radiation, for example, X-rays, gamma rays, and particles such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. Again, proton-boron fusion could offer the possibility of developing novel kinds of alpha-particle sources with many possible applications, including medical ones.
What is the importance of your chosen Special Issue topic, ‘Advances In the Study of Laser-Driven Proton-Boron Fusion’?
This Special Issue is important both in scientific terms, as well as in terms of assembling a scientific community working in the field. In the past few years, we have seen many interesting experiments and promising results, but we now need to highlight the importance of this field and see how we can progress it further, which this Special Issue plays a key role in.
What do you encourage authors to think about when preparing their manuscripts for your Special Issue?
Realising and optimising proton-boron fusion is certainly challenging, both in the context of energy production and for the realisation of alpha-particle sources. The involved physics is quite complex, involving many steps including laser-matter interaction, transport of fast particles in matter, modelling of fusion reactions, and the development of dedicated diagnostics and specific simulation tools. All of this requires careful design and innovative approaches, which should at the same time be realistic and take into account all the involved physical phenomena.
Prof. Batani is leading the Special Issue ‘Advances In the Study of Laser-Driven Proton-Boron Fusion’, which is open for submissions until April 29th 2022.
Submit your paper here >>
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.