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A tabletop experiment created nuclear fusion -- long seen as a possible clean energy solution -- under lab conditions, scientists reported.

But the amount of energy produced was too little to be seen as a breakthrough in solving the world's energy needs

For years, scientists have sought to harness controllable nuclear fusion, the same power that lights the sun and stars. This latest experiment relied on a tiny crystal to generate a strong electric field.

While falling short as a way to produce energy, the method could have potential uses in the oil-drilling industry and homeland security, said Seth Putterman, one of the physicists who did the experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The experiment's results appear in today's issue of the journal Nature.

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