Thermonuclear fusion is a way to achieve nuclear fusion by using extremely high temperatures. There are two forms of thermonuclear fusion: uncontrolled, in which the resulting energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, as it is in thermonuclear weapons such as the "hydrogen bomb", and controlled, where the fusion reactions take place in an environment allowing some of the resulting energy to be harnessed for constructive purposes. This article focuses on the latter.
Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of particles, so by heating the material it will gain energy. After reaching sufficient temperature, given by the Lawson criterion, the energy of accidental collisions within the plasma is high enough to overcome the Coulomb barrier and the particles may fuse together.
In a deuterium–tritium fusion reaction, for example, the energy necessary to overcome the Coulomb barrier is 0.1 MeV. Converting between energy and temperature shows that the 0.1 MeV barrier would be overcome at a temperature in excess of 1.2 billion Kelvin.