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These small devices are miniature particle accelerators filled with deuterium and tritium gas in an arrangement which allows ions of these nuclei to be accelerated against hydride targets, also containing deuterium and tritium, where fusion takes place. Hundreds of neutron generators are produced annually for use in the petroleum industry where they are used in measurement equipment for locating and mapping oil reserves.

Beam timing is a relatively simple issue though and is solved by using delay lines in the beams' optical path to achieve picosecond levels of timing accuracy. The other major problem plaguing the achievement of high symmetry and high temperatures/densities of the imploding target are so called "beam-beam" imbalance and beam anisotropy. These problems are, respectively, where the energy delivered by one beam may be higher or lower than other beams impinging o n the target and o f "hot spot s" within a beam diameter hitting a target which induces uneven compression on the target surface, thereby forming Rayleigh–Taylor instabilities in the fuel, prematurely mixing it and r educing heating efficacy at the time of maximum compression.

Gravitational confine ment One force capable of confining the fuel well enough to satisfy the Lawson criterion is gravity. The mass needed, however, is so great that gravitational confinement is only found in stars (the smallest of which are brown dwarfs). Even if the more reactive fuel deuterium were used, a mass greater than that of the planet Jupiter would be needed. In stars heavy enough, a fter the supp ly of hydrogen is exhausted in their cores, their cores (or a shell around the core) start fusing helium to carbon.

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