National Academies Press: OpenBook

Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications (1995)

Chapter:Sheaths, Boundary Layers, and Double Layers.

« Previous: Turbulence.
Suggested Citation:"Sheaths, Boundary Layers, and Double Layers.." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.

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BASIC PLASMA EXPERIMENTS 146 Since turbulence is so common in plasma physics, the potential rewards for achieving predictability are particularly high. In the past decade, new plasma sources and measurement techniques have been developed that will allow us to undertake a new generation of precisely controlled experiments to study turbulent plasma behavior. One starting point in achieving a deeper understanding of turbulence will be further study of the questions raised by the observed breakdown of quasilinear theory and experimental tests to determine the range of validity of the random phase approximation. Turbulent Transport. Profound consequences of plasma turbulence include the transport of both particles and energy and the acceleration of particles that can be induced by turbulence. Such transport can completely dominate plasma behavior. For example, transport by turbulence, in the form of both convection and enhanced diffusion, is the dominant transport mechanism of particles and energy in present-day tokamak fusion plasmas. Turbulent transport presents an excellent opportunity for carefully controlled laboratory experiments. At least in low- temperature laboratory plasmas, techniques are now available to study both the transport of particles and energy and the fluctuations responsible for this transport. To establish the causal connection between turbulence and transport, it will be necessary to make precise, spatially resolved measurements of fluctuating quantities such as plasma temperature, density, velocity, and magnetic field and to establish the correlations between these quantities and local measurements of the particle and energy fluxes. Because turbulence and turbulent transport are not understood in any plasma, careful experimentation in flexible, small experiments is likely to make significant contributions to testing existing theoretical predictions and to guide further theoretical work in this important area. Given the fundamental lack of understanding and the important practical consequences that would derive from a deeper understanding of turbulence and turbulent transport, a sustained program of both theoretical and experimental research is extremely important. Sheaths, Boundary Layers, and Double Layers. Plasma sheaths (i.e., regions where the plasma is not charge-neutral) have been an important topic throughout the history of plasma physics. All plasmas in the laboratory and in space have boundaries at which there are sheaths, and probes and antennas immersed in plasmas are surrounded by such sheaths. One important area for future research is the nature of sheaths in magnetized plasmas. To probe the structure of such sheaths requires detectors smaller than an electron Debye length. Such probes and probe arrays can be expected to be available in the next few years. Double layers are a class of sheaths that are detached from a physical boundary and are supported by locally non-Maxwellian conditions. Although there has been some research done on double layers, there has been little work on situations in which the ions are magnetized and situations involving the transition

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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