The “Cold Fusion” Problem
As I write this (early May, 1989) it is just over six weeks since the first claims (3,4) of observation of “cold fusion” burst upon the world, and it is still not entirely clear whether we are dealing with a potentially revolutionary new source of energy, a minor but intriguing new physical phenomenon or simply a catalog of experimental and statistical errors. No doubt the picture will have changed by the time this lecture is given, let alone by the time it is published; anyway, for present purposes I will take the view that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence that an unexpectedly high rate of nuclear fusion is taking place in deuterium trapped in metals such as palladium and titanium that it makes sense to ask what kinds of constraint theory can put on possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, if indeed it is genuine.
KeywordsFusion Rate Helium Atom Bohr Radius Cold Fusion Deuterium Concentration
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- 8.The WKB approximation can be shown to give an upper limit on the tunnelling probability in one dimension, but unfortunately not in three, the case of present interest. Fortunately we can bypass this difficulty by using the exact results for the Coulomb potential, see below. The WKB approximation gets the order of magnitude right.Google Scholar
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