The extraordinarily beautiful physical principle of thermonuclear charge design (on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the test of RDS-37 — the first Soviet two-stage thermonuclear charge)
All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics — Federal Nuclear Centre, prosp. Mira 37, Sarov, Nizhny Novgorod region, 607190, Russian Federation
On 22 November 1955, the Semipalatinsk test site
saw the test of the first domestic two-stage thermonuclear
RDS-37 charge. The charge operation was based on the principle of radiation implosion. The kernel of the principle consists in
the radiation generated in a primary A-bomb explosion and
confined by the radiation-opaque casing propagating throughout the interior casing volume and flowing around the secondary
thermonuclear unit. The secondary unit experiences a strong
compression under the irradiation, with a resulting nuclear and
thermonuclear explosion. The RDS-37 explosion was the strongest of all those ever realized at the Semipalatinsk test site. It
produced an indelible impression on the participants in the test.
This document-based paper describes the genesis of the ideas
underlying the RDS-37 design and reflects the critical moments
in its development. The advent of RDS-37 was an outstanding
accomplishment of the scientists and engineers of our country.