Bubble fusion, also known as sonofusion, is the non-technical name for a nuclear fusion reaction hypothesized to occur during a high-pressure version of sonoluminescence, an extreme form of acoustic cavitation. Officially, this reaction is termed acoustic inertial confinement fusion (AICF) (see ICF) since the inertia of the collapsing bubble wall confines the energy, causing an extreme rise in temperature. The high temperatures that sonoluminescence can produce raise the possibility that it might be a means to achieve thermonuclear fusion.
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Original experiments Edit
US patent 4,333,796, filed by Hugh Flynn in 1978, appears to be the earliest documented reference to a sonofusion-type reaction.
In the March 8, 2002 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Science, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan and colleagues at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) reported that acoustic cavitation experiments conducted with deuterated acetone (Template:CarbonTemplate:DeuteriumTemplate:Oxygen) showed measurements of tritium and neutron output that were consistent with the occurrence of fusion. The neutron emission was also reported to be coincident with the sonoluminescence pulse, a key indicator that its source was fusion caused by the sonoluminescence.
Shock wave simulations seem to indicate that the temperatures inside the collapsing bubbles may reach up to 10 megakelvins, i.e. as hot as the center of the Sun. A 2008 study has provided data demonstrating bubble temperatures exceeding 100,000K and a pressure dependence that indicated temperatures above 106K could be expected under sonofusion conditions  . Although the apparatus operates in a room temperature environment, this is not cold fusion (as commonly termed in the popular press) because the nuclear reactions would be occurring at the very high temperatures in the core of the imploding bubbles.
The researchers used a pulse of neutrons in order to nucleate ("seed") the tiny bubbles, whereas most previous experiments started with small air bubbles already in the liquid. Using this new method, the team was able to produce stable bubbles that could expand to nearly a millimeter in radius before collapsing. In this way, the researchers stated, they were able to create the conditions necessary to produce very high pressures and temperatures. The sensitivity of the fusion rate to temperature, which is in turn a function of how small the bubbles get when they collapse, in combination with the likely sensitivity of the latter to fine experimental details, may account for the fact that some research workers have reported to see an effect, while others have not.
Taleyarkhan et al. also prepared identical experiments in non-deuterated (normal) acetone and failed to observe neutron emission or tritium production. Taleyarkhan claims his interest in bubble fusion began following a post-dinner chat with a friend, Dr. Mark Embrechts, in 1995.
Oak Ridge failed replication Edit
In 2002, these experiments were repeated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory by D. Shapira and M. J. Saltmarsh but using more sophisticated neutron detection equipment. They reported that the neutron release was consistent with random coincidence. A rebuttal by Taleyarkhan and the other authors of the original report said that the Shapira and Saltmarsh report failed to account for significant differences in experimental setup, including over an inch of shielding between the neutron detector and the sonoluminescing acetone. Taleyarkhan et al. report that when these differences are properly considered, the Shapira and Saltmarsh results are consistent with fusion.
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In addition, Galonsky has shown that by Taleyarkhan's own detector calibration the observed neutrons are too high in energy to be from a deuterium-deuterium (d-d) fusion reaction. In a rebuttal comment, Taleyarkhan says the energy is "reasonably close" to that which is expected.
In February 2005, the BBC documentary series Horizon commissioned a collaboration between two leading sonoluminescence researchers, Seth Putterman and Ken Suslick, to reproduce Taleyarkhan's work. Using similar acoustic parameters, deuterated acetone, similar bubble nucleation, and a much more sophisticated neutron detection device, the researchers could find no evidence of a fusion reaction. This work was reviewed by a team of four scientists, including an expert in sonoluminescence and an expert in neutron detection, who also concluded that no evidence of fusion could be observed.
Subsequent reports of replication Edit
In 2004, new reports of bubble fusion were published by the Taleyarkhan group, saying that the results of previous experiments have been replicated under more stringent experimental conditions. These results differed from the original results in that fusion was occurring for a much longer time frame than previously reported. The original report only showed neutron emission from the initial bubble collapse following bubble nucleation, whereas this report showed neutron emission many acoustic cycles later. The data, however, was less than stringent insofar as too large a window of measurement was used to determine a coincidence between neutron emission and sonoluminescent light emission. Furthermore, the energy of the detected neutrons was not consistent with neutrons produced from a fusion reaction.
In July 2005, two of Taleyarkhan's students at Purdue University published evidence confirming the previous result. They used the same acoustic chamber, the same deuterated acetone fluid and a similar bubble nucleation system. In this report, no neutron-sonoluminescence coincidence was attempted. Once again, the neutron energies measured were not consistent with those of neutrons produced by a d-d fusion reaction. Charges of misconduct were raised, and Purdue University opened an investigation. It concluded in 2008 that Taleyarkhan's name should have appeared in the author list because of his deep involvement in many steps of the research, that he added one author that hadn't really participated in the paper just to overcome the criticism of one reviewer, and that this was part of an attempt of "an effort to falsify the scientific record by assertion of independent confirmation". The investigation didn't address the validity of the experimental results.
A paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters by researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reports statistically significant evidence of fusion: The initial news report, however, shows that the reaction does not always work correctly and it is not known what parameters change to cause the reaction to function properly or not function at all.
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In November 2006, in the midst of charges leveled at Taleyarkhan as regards his research standards, Dr. Edward R. Forringer and undergraduates David Robbins and Jonathan Martin of LeTourneau University presented two papers at the American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting that reported replication of neutron emission during a visit to the meta-stable fluids research lab at Purdue University. Their experimental setup was similar to the preceding experiments in that it used a mixture of deuterated acetone, deuterated benzene, tetrachloroethylene and uranyl nitrate. Notably, however, it operated without an external neutron source and used two types of neutron detectors. They claimed a liquid scintillation detector measured neutron levels at 8 standard deviations above the background level, while plastic detectors measured levels at 3.8 standard deviations above the background. These measurements were within one standard deviation for the same experiment with a non-deuterated control liquid, indicating that the neutron production had only occurred during cavitation of the deuterated liquid.
Doubts prompt investigation Edit
Reports as spectacular as the above arouse a lot of doubt. In March 2006, Nature published a "special report" "silencing the hype" that called into question the validity of the results of the Purdue experiments. The report quotes Brian Naranjo of the University of California, Los Angeles to the effect that spectrum measured in these sonofusion experiments is consistent with radioactive decay of the lab equipment and hence does not reliably demonstrate the presence of nuclear reactions.
The response of Taleyarkhan et al., published in Physical Review Letters, attempts to refute Naranjo's hypothesis as to the cause of the neutrons detected.
Doubts at Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering faculty as to whether the positive results reported from sonofusion experiments conducted there were truthful prompted the university to initiate a review of the research, conducted by Purdue's Office of the Vice President for Research. In a March 9, 2006 article entitled "Evidence for bubble fusion called into question", Nature interviewed several of Taleyarkhan's colleagues who suspected something was amiss.
On February 7, 2007, the Purdue University administration determined that "the evidence does not support the allegations of research misconduct and that no further investigation of the allegations is warranted". Their report also stated that "vigorous, open debate of the scientific merits of this new technology is the most appropriate focus going forward." In order to verify that the investigation was properly conducted, House Representative Brad Miller requested full copies of its documents and reports by March 30, 2007.
In June 2008, a multi-institutional team including Taleyarkhan publishes a paper in Nuclear Engineering and Design to "clear up misconceptions generated by a webposting of UCLA which served as the basis for the Nature article of March 2006", according to a press release.
On July 18, 2008, Purdue University announced that a committee with members from five institutions has investigated 12 allegations of research misconduct by Rusi Taleyarkhan. It concluded that two allegations were founded—that Taleyarkhan had claimed independent confirmation of his work when in reality the apparent confirmations were done by Taleyarkhan's former students and was not as "independent" as Taleyarkhan implied, and that Taleyarkhan had included an additional colleague's name on one of his papers who had not actually been involved in the research ("the sole apparent motivation for the addition of Mr. Butt was a desire to overcome a reviewer's criticism," the report concluded).  Purdue University had previously said, in a press release in July 2005, that Butt's replication was independent from Taleyarkhan
Taleyarkhan appealed the conclusions in the report, but this was rejected. He said the two allegations of misconduct were trivial administrative issues and had nothing to do with the discovery of bubble nuclear fusion or the underlying science, and that "all allegations of fraud and fabrication have been dismissed as invalid and without merit — thereby supporting the underlying science and experimental data as being on solid ground".  A researcher questioned by the LA Times said that the report had not clarified whether bubble fusion was real or not, but that the low quality of the papers and the doubts cast by the report had made him lose all the credibility that he formerly had among the scientific community.
On June 11, 2009, Kimberly-Clark filed a patent application on a thermonuclear fusion cell using ultrasound horns and by using an electric potential between the horn and the cell wall. They claimed to fuse hydrogen isotopes inside a carrier liquid, namely water and to have solved the reproductibility problems of Taleyarkhan in preamble. 
See also Edit
- Cold fusion
- List of energy topics
- Chain Reaction, a movie portraying the discovery and attempted cover-up of a practical acoustic fusion reactor.
- ↑ Chang, Kenneth (February 27, 2007). "Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?", New York Times. Retrieved on 27 February 2007. "Dr. Putterman's approach is to use sound waves, called sonofusion or bubble fusion, to expand and collapse tiny bubbles, generating ultrahot temperatures. At temperatures hot enough, atoms can literally fuse and release even more energy than when they split in nuclear fission, now used in nuclear power plants and weapons. Furthermore, fusion is clean in that it does not produce long-lived nuclear waste."
- ↑ Template:Ref patent
- ↑ Taleyarkhan, R. P.; C. D. West, J. S. Cho, R. T. Lahey, Jr. R. Nigmatulin, and R. C. Block (2002-03-08). "Evidence for Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation". Science 295 (1868). ISSN 0036-8075, http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/hottopics/bubble/index.shtml. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=PLEEE8000078000003035301000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes
- ↑ Shapira, D.; M. J. Saltmarsh (19 August 2002). "Nuclear Fusion in Collapsing Bubbles — Is it There? An Attempt to Repeat the Observation of Nuclear Emissions from Sonoluminescence". Physical Review Letters v. 89 (letter 104302). ISSN 1079-7114 (online), http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v89/i10/e104302. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Galonsky, A. (6 September 2002). "Tabletop Fusion Revisited". Science 297 (1645): 1645b. doi:10.1126/science.297.5587.1645b. ISSN 0036-8075.
- ↑ "Nuclear fusion 'put to the test'", BBC News (17 February 2005). Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ ""An Experiment to Save the World"" (programme transcript). 'Horizon'. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
- ↑ Bourgeois, Theresa (2 March 2004). "Researchers Report Bubble Fusion Results Replicated: Physical Review E publishes paper on fusion experiment conducted with upgraded measurement system", RPI News & Information. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Taleyarkhan, R. P.; J. S. Cho, C. D. West, R. T. Lahey, R. I. Nigmatulin, and R. C. Block (22 March 2004). "Additional Evidence of Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation". Physical Review E 69 (letter 036109): 036109. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.69.036109, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004PhRvE..69c6109T. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Venere, Emil (12 July 2005). "Purdue findings support earlier nuclear fusion experiments", Purdue News, Purdue University. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Xu, Y.; A. Butt (3 May 2005). "Confirmatory Experiments for Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation". Nuclear Engineering and Design 235 (1317): pp.1317–1324. doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2005.02.021. ISSN 0167-899X.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 "Report of the Investigation Committee In the Matter of Dr. Rusi P. Taleyarkhan" (PDF). Purdue University (18 April 2008). Retrieved on 2008-07-19.
- ↑ Peplow, Mark (10 January 2006). "Desktop fusion is back on the table". Nature.com. doi:10.1038/news060109-5. ISSN 1744-7933, http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060109/full/060109-5.html. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Taleyarkhan, R. P.; C. D. West, R. T. Lahey, R. I. Nigmatulin, J. S. Cho, R. C. Block, and Y. Xu (January 2006). "Nuclear Emissions During Self-Nucleated Acoustic Cavitation". Physical Review Letters 96 (letter 034301): 034301. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.034301, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006PhRvL..96c4301T. Retrieved on 13 May 2007. "...Statistically significant nuclear emissions were observed for deuterated benzene and acetone mixtures but not for heavy water. The measured neutron energy was <=2.45 MeV, which is indicative of deuterium-deuterium (D-D) fusion. Neutron emission rates were in the range ~5×10³ n/s to ~104 n/s and followed the inverse law dependence with distance..."
- ↑ "Using Sound Waves To Induce Nuclear Fusion With No External Neutron Source", Science Daily, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (31 January 2006). Retrieved on 13 May 2007. "...The experiment was specifically designed to address a fundamental research question, not to make a device that would be capable of producing energy, Block says...To verify the presence of fusion, the researchers used three independent neutron detectors and one gamma ray detector. All four detectors produced the same results: a statistically significant increase in the amount of nuclear emissions due to sonofusion when compared to background levels..."
- ↑ "Bubble Fusion Confirmed by LETU Research" LeTourneau University News (www.letu.edu/opencms/opencms/events/Bubble_Fusion_Confirmed_by_LETU_Research.html) link inactive as of 2008-05-10
- ↑ ""Technical Sessions by Day (Wednesday)"" (PDF). ANS 2006 Winter Meeting & Nuclear Technology Expo Official Program (November 12-16, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-12-06. (confirmation of presentation)
- ↑ Forringer, Edward R.; David Robbins, Jonathan Martin (12 November 2006). "Confirmation of Neutron Production During Self-Nucleated Acoustic Cavitation". Transactions of the American Nuclear Society v.95: p.736. ISSN 0003-018X.
- ↑ "Bubble fusion: silencing the hype" ([dead link]). Nature.com. 8 March 2006. doi:10.1038/news060306-1 (inactive 12 March 2009). ISSN 1744-7933, http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060306/full/news060306-1.html. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Naranjo, Brian (3 October 2006). "Comment on 'Nuclear Emissions During Self-Nucleated Acoustic Cavitation'". Physical Review Letters 97 (letter 149403): 149403. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.97.149403.
- ↑ Taleyarkhan, R. P.; R. C. Block, R. T. Lahey, Jr., R. I. Nigmatulin, and Y. Xu (3 October 2006). "Taleyarkhan et al. Reply:". Physical Review Letters 97 (letter 149404): 149404. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.97.149404.
- ↑ Samuel Reich, Eugenie (9 March 2006). "Evidence for bubble fusion called into question". Nature 440 (132): 132. doi:10.1038/440132b. PMID 16525429.
- ↑ "Purdue integrity panel completes research inquiry", Purdue News, Purdue University (7 February 2007). Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ Chang, Kenneth (February 13, 2007). "Researcher Cleared of Misconduct, but Case Is Still Murky", New York Times, p. F-4. Retrieved on 13 May 2007.
- ↑ "Miller Seeks Data on Purdue Investigation Into Scientific Misconduct". House Committee on Science and Technology (22 March 2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
- ↑ Taleyarkhan, R.P. (June 2008). "Modeling, Analysis and Prediction of Neutron Emission Spectra From Acoustic Cavitation Bubble Fusion Experiments". Nuclear Engineering and Design 2008 (238): 2779–2791. doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2008.06.007.
- ↑ "Purdue committee completes research misconduct investigation". Purdue University (18 July 2008). Retrieved on 2008-07-18.
- ↑ "Purdue findings supports earlier nuclear fusion experiments". Purdue University (12 July 2005). Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 Jayaraman, K. S.. "Bubble fusion discoverer says his science is vindicated". Nature India. doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.271. Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
- ↑ Purdue physicist found guilty of misconduct, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2008, Thomas H. Maugh II
- ↑ Press, Associated (August 27, 2008). "Purdue reprimands fusion scientist for misconduct", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 28 August 2008. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008.
- ↑ U.S. Pat. App. # US2009147905 (A1)
- "Bubble Power", Richard T. Lahey Jr., Rusi P. Taleyarkhan & Robert I. Nigmatulin, IEEE Spectrum Magazine, May 2005 — Readable, quantitative, illustrated article
- R. T. Lahey Jr, R. P. Taleyarkhan, and R. I. Nigmatulin, Sonofusion — Fact or Fiction? (PDF format)
- "Possible Sound-Induced Nuclear Fusion Posited" Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Press Release, March 5, 2002
- "Fusion controversy rekindled" BBC News, March 5, 2002
- "Fusion experiment disappoints" BBC News, July 2, 2002
- "Evidence bubbles over to support tabletop nuclear fusion device" March 2, 2004
- "Sound waves size up sonoluminescence". PhysicsWeb. February 5, 2002
- "Researchers Report Bubble Fusion Results Replicated" Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Press Release, March 2, 2004
- Harnessing bubbles to trigger nuclear fusion — 22 January 2005, Justin Mullins, New Scientist Magazine Issue 2483 (subscription required)
- Purdue findings support earlier nuclear fusion experiments — New positive bubble/sonofusion findings were detailed in a peer-reviewed paper appearing in the May issue of the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design. (July 12, 2005)
- Bubble Fusion takes next hurdle — The potential for cavitation to induce nuclear fusion lets physicists think in new directions of energy production. (July 18, 2005)
- Peplow, M.A.R.K. (January 10, 2006). "Desktop fusion is back on the table; Physicist claims to have definitive data, but can they be replicated?" ([dead link]). News@nature.com. doi:10.1038/news060109-5, http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060109/full/060109-5.html. (subscription required)
- "Sonofusion Experiment Produces Results Without External Neutron Source" PhysOrg.com January 27, 2006
- "Using Sound Waves To Induce Nuclear Fusion With No External Neutron Source" (sciencedaily.com, January 31, 2006)
- "Bubble fusion: silencing the hype", Nature online, March 8, 2006 — Nature reveals serious doubts over reports of fusion in collapsing bubbles (subscription required)
- What's New, March 10, 2006 - failed replications
- "Bubble-fusion group suffer setback; Team admits a mix-up with one of their neutron detectors", May 10, 2006, email@example.com (subscription required)
- "Purdue Bubble Wraps Sonofusion Inquiry Results", June 21, 2006 Photonics.com
- "Introduction to Sonofusion" Roger Stringham, October 2006
- "Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?", Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, February 27, 2007