CANTON, N.Y. (WETM) – Earlier this month, scientists made a breakthrough in nuclear fusion—the process that powers the sun—by producing more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it. And Corning, Inc. played a major role in the “high-energy laser system” that made the breakthrough possible.

Corning Inc. announced that its fused silica components manufactured in Canton, N.Y. served “as laser transport optics” at the heart of the process. The glass company has worked with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—where the fusion happened—since the 1980s.

Fusion is the process of pressing atoms together so forcefully that they combine and become a new element, and, in the process, release huge amounts of heat and energy. As Corning explained in more scientific terms, LLNL’s laser converts to “X-rays inside the hohlraum [shell or cavity], which then compress a fuel capsule until it implodes, creating a high-temperature, high-pressure plasma.”

In the early 2000’s, Corning said it provided fused silica to LLNL for its high-energy laser system because the material’s “optical properties, thermal stability, and large-size application capabilities.”

“Corning’s advanced optics technologies play an essential role in moving our world forward,”
said John Bayne, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Mobile Consumer Electronics. “From our optical components that enabled the awe-inspiring James Webb Space Telescope photos, to our leading solutions in cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturing, to our proprietary glass making augmented and mixed reality devices possible, Corning’s innovations are vital to progress. We’re thrilled to have contributed optical components for LLNL’s fusion experiments, which could ultimately lead to cleaner energy sources that prolong the health of our environment.”

While large-scale application of fusion energy is still decades away, scientists hope this breakthrough will help toward a future of clean energy.