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Feb 21, 2022

Physics Breakthrough as AI Successfully Controls Plasma in Nuclear Fusion Experiment

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics, robotics/AI, sustainability

Successfully achieving nuclear fusion holds the promise of delivering a limitless, sustainable source of clean energy, but we can only realize this incredible dream if we can master the complex physics taking place inside the reactor.

For decades, scientists have been taking incremental steps towards this goal, but many challenges remain. One of the core obstacles is successfully controlling the unstable and super-heated plasma in the reactor – but a new approach reveals how we can do this.

In a joint effort by EPFL’s Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) research company DeepMind, scientists used a deep reinforcement learning (RL) system to study the nuances of plasma behavior and control inside a fusion tokamak – a donut-shaped device that uses a series of magnetic coils placed around the reactor to control and manipulate the plasma inside it.

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