CHINA has reached a new milestone in its pursuit of creating an artificial sun after the success of its latest nuclear fusion test.
The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) managed to burn hot plasma for nearly seven minutes, smashing the previous record of 101 seconds.
Boffins believe the extraordinary device – which can fire up to a scorching 70 million degrees – could solve the world's fuel needs.
The latest development marks another important step towards producing self-sustaining nuclear fusion, which would create "unlimited clean energy".
Beijing is celebrating the EAST machine after it performed a "high power, stable, steady-state long-pulse high confinement mode plasma operation," for a whopping 403 seconds.
It's an impressive feat, especially since the previous record set in 2017 only spanned 101 seconds, according to China's state-run news outlet the Global Times.
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The win is set to allow researchers to make even better headway on their mission to create an artificial sun.
By mimicking reactions that naturally occur inside the sun, experts hope they can scale it up for commercial use.
The facility is called an artificial sun because it mimics the nuclear fusion reaction that powers the real sun – which uses hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuel.
The EAST harnesses extremely high temperatures to boil hydrogen isotopes into a plasma, fusing them together and releasing energy.
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The man-made source of heat and light could potentially end the world's reliance on fossil fuels and help to reverse global warming.
Scientists hope that the EAST, which is located in Hefei in eastern China, will eventually be powered by deuterium found in the sea to "provide a steady stream of clean energy".
The resources required are effectively unlimited, seeing countries race to create the first reliable nuclear fusion reactor.
Song Yuntao, director of the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement: "The main significance of this new breakthrough lies in its ‘high-confinement mode’, under which the temperature and density of the plasma increase significantly.
"The record is also a big step forward for our team in terms of fundamental physics research, fusion engineering, and project operation and maintenance."
He said his team had worked day and night for a week to achieve the revolutionary breakthrough.
The incredible EAST contraption has already conducted 120,000 experiments since it was developed in 2006.
Researchers managed to run the artificial sun at 70 million degrees last year for 17 minutes and36 seconds.
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The real sun hits temperatures of around 15 million degrees at its core.
They then hoped to test the EAST's abilities even further by cranking the heat up to a hellish 150 million degrees.
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