Calculated fusion rates in isotopic hydrogen molecules

S. E. Koonin, M. Nauenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

COLD fusion occurs when two nuclei with very small relative energy tunnel through their mutual Coulomb barrier to initiate a nuclear reaction. The phenomenon is well studied in muon-catalysed fusion1-4, where a relatively massive muon replaces an electron in a diatomic molecule of hydrogen isotopes, enhancing the binding and producing cold-fusion rates of ∼1012s-1. Cold fusion is also believed to occur as pycno-nuclear reactions in certain astrophysical environments5. Recent reports of cold fusion between hydrogen isotopes embedded in palladium6 and titanium7 have prompted us to reconsider previous estimates of the cold-fusion rates for free diatomic isotopic hydrogen molecules. In particular, we have calculated rates in diatomic hydrogen molecules of various isotopic composition. An accurate Born-Oppenheimer potential was used to calculate the ground-state wavefunctions. We find that the rate for d + d fusion is 3 × 10-64s-1, some 10 orders of magnitude faster than a previous estimate. We also find that the rate for p + d fusion is 10-55s-1, which is larger than the d + d rate because of the enhanced tunnelling in the lighter system. Hypothetical enhancements of the electron mass by factors of 5-10 would be required to bring cold-fusion rates into the range of recently claimed observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-691
Number of pages2
JournalNature
Volume339
Issue number6227
StatePublished - 1989

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fusion
hydrogen
molecules
hydrogen isotopes
nuclear reactions
muons
electron mass
estimates
diatomic molecules
tunnels
astrophysics
nuclei
ground state
augmentation
electrons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Koonin, S. E., & Nauenberg, M. (1989). Calculated fusion rates in isotopic hydrogen molecules. Nature, 339(6227), 690-691.

Calculated fusion rates in isotopic hydrogen molecules. / Koonin, S. E.; Nauenberg, M.

In: Nature, Vol. 339, No. 6227, 1989, p. 690-691.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Koonin, SE & Nauenberg, M 1989, 'Calculated fusion rates in isotopic hydrogen molecules', Nature, vol. 339, no. 6227, pp. 690-691.
Koonin, S. E. ; Nauenberg, M. / Calculated fusion rates in isotopic hydrogen molecules. In: Nature. 1989 ; Vol. 339, No. 6227. pp. 690-691.
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