The inertial electrostatic confinement fusion reactor is a device that uses electrostatic fields to accelerate and confine a deuterium plasma to a central point, occasionally some of the deuterium ions in the plasma will collide, and fuse together into helium-3 and a high energy neutron, or hydrogen-3 and a proton.
It must first be asserted that IEC fusion reactors are not cold fusion reactors, nor do they produce a net energy gain, rather they are typically very inefficient, very hot fusion reactors.
The most well known type of IEC reactor, known as a farnsworth fusor, was first developed by Philo T. Farnsworth, and later by Robert Hirsch and Eugene Meeks. IEC Fusion is now currently being studied by a number of laboratories and universities, specifically University of Wisconsin, Madison.
How they Work:
A vacuum chamber is brought to an extremely low pressure, typically around 5-10 millitorr, and filled with deuterium gas. Inside the vacuum chamber, a spherical grid of wires in the center of the chamber is charged to a very low negative potential, typically ranging from -20kV to more than -100kV. This grid ionizes the deuterium gas due to field emission. The positively charged ions of deuterium are then accelerated towards the negatively charged grid at a great speed, where some of them collide together and fuse into either He-3, emitting a neutron, or H-3, emitting a proton. The neutrons can be detected, and are often used as key proof of fusion.