How does one create a high temperature plasma at low cost without much material.?

For fusion research.

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Try one of these
Farnsworth fusor
Well that certainly beats the hell out of putting a quartered grape in the microwave, doesn't it?
Whoa.   That is really amazing!  I especially like the photo at the end of the article.  You won't reach break-even (or close) with this design, as there are just too many instabilities, but it's an outstanding research device.
Read on about Bussard's innovation, I wonder how that's going ? 

P.S. If the original author doesn't mark this Best Answer, I will.
jeff-o7 years ago
Could you do it with a high voltage transformer and a spark gap?  If not, the farnsworth fusor is probably what you're looking for.