It's a fascinating concept, even if it might be decades before practical testing and development might be possible. From IEEE Spectrum:
This is one of those patents that absolutely in no way signifies that the company who files it is working on the thing that the patent is patenting. Because we can assure you, Boeing is not actively developing a laser-triggered fusion powered jet engine. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about it anyway, right?
Here’s the basic idea: you’ve got a cavity that’s a sort of hemisphere shape, kind of like the business end of a rocket engine. You toss a pellet of fuel into that cavity, and then lasers blast the fuel pellet, causing it to release a bunch of energy (by exploding, fissioning, fusing, or whatever). That energy pushes against the walls of the cavity, and the cavity moves forward. At the same time, the explosion heats the walls of the cavity, and this heat is harvested to drive the lasers.
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