On the road toward harnessing fusion energy as a practical power source, researchers have developed important new technologies that have wide spread impact. Highlights include:
- In semiconductor manufacturing, study of basic plasma physics has enabled the processing of larger wafers of semiconductors (dies) and direct implantation of dopant ions. Plasma x-ray and ultraviolet (VUV) sources allow the etching of smaller features – thus improving the throughput and efficiency of this critical manufacturing industry.
- HDTV plasma displays
- Remote monitoring of air pollution sources
- Ion thrusters for long-distance space flight
- Plasma thrusters for satellite attitude control
- Medical applications, including lasers for surgery and to break up blood clots
- Plasma destructions of hazardous wastes
- Superconductors for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other applications
- Materials hardening via ion beam surface modification, laser machining and high-power microwave processing
- Artificial diamonds and diamond films, plasma sprayed ceramic coatings
- Optical material manufacturing
These spinoffs form the basis for billions of dollar a year in industries. While working toward future energy, fusion research has contributed to the future of computers, optics, space flight, materials, medicine and countless other technologies along the way.
Here is an example of the technology transfer from just one of the labs involved in fusion research: As of March 2012, former Engineers, Students, Staff and Scientists at the PSFC (the laboratory housing Alcator C-Mod) have founded over 36 different spin-off companies with an employment of over 1400 individuals. These companies are in high technology areas producing skilled jobs.
Read the compiled list of companies below:
Also, view the General Atomics Report on fusion spin-offs.
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