Hefei Institute of Physical Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences officially announced on Tuesday that they have managed to reach a scorching level of 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius) for its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor.
"China's "artificial sun" has for the first time achieved a plasma central electron temperature of 100 million C, marking a key step in China's future fusion reactor experiment", said the research team.
It should be noted that the core of our real Sun is just 15 million degrees Celsius hot.
While generating plasma at such high temperatures, there are still many milestones that will need to be overcome before fusion becomes a reliable source of energy. Nuclear reactors like EAST are a means to exactly that: an nearly infinite supply of energy that is clean.
One way of achieving this on Earth is by using what's known as a tokamak, a device created to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the Sun and stars to generate energy. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits atoms to create energy, fusion involves joining lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus. The institute hopes that this could unlock the secrets of how scientists could make nuclear fusion a reality on this planet, according to the Shanghaiist report.
Powerful magnets lining the inner walls of EAST then contain the plasma to a tiny area to maximise the chance that the ions will fuse together.
Currently, nuclear energy created through fusion leaves a long-lasting toxic waste. The facility is 11 meters tall, with a diameter of 8 meters, and a weight of 400 tons. "The electron temperature of the core plasma increased beyond 100 million degrees".
According to the Institute of Plasma Physics, the results of EAST's experiments this year will aid in the construction of ITER's tokamak. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project - a global collaboration of 35 countries, including China, initiated in 1985 - is now developing the world's largest tokamak in France.
The team says that it was able to achieve fully non-inductive steady-state scenario with high confinement, high density, and high energy confinement enhanced factor during test operations.