I built a small working nuclear reactor, its pretty pointless but really cool. They can be made really easily with some wire and a jar but building a stainless chamber was pretty fun. And a lot safer too because this thing throws out a ton of radiation. This sort of reactor is called a Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor.
It works by inertial electrostatic confinement which is a stupid way to say pulling and colliding particles together with electric charge. It does it with enough power to fuse deuterium nuclei together.
This is a terrible way to carry out fusion reactions as it takes WAY more energy than you put into it. But nonetheless it is actual atomic fusion and you get some pretty high energy neutrons (like 2Mev). You can either detect these directly with a tube, dosimeter, crazy stuff or silver activation. The silver transmutes into silver 109 or 111 which then decays into cadmium and releases alpha particles with a half life of ~22 seconds. The reaction also makes tritium, helium 3, 4 and x-rays.
They are cool but not all that useful unless you have a project that you need tons of neutrons for...
Prices and parts:
Chamber (could be simple bell jar) $50-$400
High voltage Supply, 35kv Negative polarity ~10 mA $100
Vacuum pumps $150
Deuterium, hard to get but not that hard $100-$300
Solvents, valves, wires, wood, needle valve(.02), lead, whatever $200
I got it all from ebay, mcmaster and kurt j lesker.
I did bake the chamber a bit, it gets down to 20 mTorr now with just the mechanical pump because I just leave it under vacuum and everything has outgassed over a few weeks.
This thing spews out tons of bad stuff, and the high voltage might be able to kill you too. I'd be more worried about high energy neutrons though. Not to mention all the x-rays or uv rays plasma puts out. It'll kill ya if your stupid with it
Consider supporting me and my projects on patreon! https://www.patreon.com/Bennbuilds