Nanotechnology and nuclear energy

John K Clark (
Thu, 8 Jan 1998 20:57:01 -0800 (PST)


On 8 Jan 1998 Eugene Leitl <> Wrote:

>Perfect diamondoids (which are as susceptible to rad ageing as
>everything else) are no Unobtainium.

You're right, damage and radioactive isotopes caused by neutrons is a serious
problem for a fusion reactor, that's why the reaction I like best is between
non radioactive deuterium (Hydrogen 2) and non radioactive Helium 3, this
produces non radioactive Helium 4, an easily controlled proton, 18.3 mev of
energy, and most important of all, no neutron. Unfortunately you need a
higher temperature to achieve it than the deuterium tritium reaction most are
talking about.

>I do not see how nanotech can decrease the accelerator size
>significantly. Novel acceleration principles do not rely on nanotech
>for implementation.

Novel acceleration principles would be a nice thing to have and I'm sure we'll
find them, but just engineering things better would work wonders. Make a
series of thin aligned rings of copper or some other conductor and put them a
nanometer from each other. The first ring has a modest positive charge of
5 volts on it to pull an electron toward it. When the electron reaches the
center drop the charge on the ring to zero, as soon as the electron passes
put a negative charge of 5 volts on the ring to push the particle on to the
next ring. After one meter the electron would have 10 billion electron volts
on energy.

We know it would be tricky to get the timing right, to make sure the voltage
on the rings rise and fell exactly when they should, but we also know it's
possible to do so because the original Stanford linear accelerator operates on
exactly this principle, it's just bigger, 2 miles long. The nanotech version
with the arbitrary values given in my example would only need to be about
12 feet long to equal the energy.

John K Clark

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