National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

Chapter:Massively Parallel Plasma Diagnostics

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Suggested Citation:"Massively Parallel Plasma Diagnostics." 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 151 New Regimes of Plasma Parameters As described in Part II, advances in laser technology now make possible laboratory experiments in previously inaccessible regimes of plasma parameters. Both short-pulse, high-power lasers and multiphoton ionization using tuned sources can be used to produce liquid or solid density plasmas, in which both quantum and classical many-body effects are important. The creation of these high-energy-density plasmas also opens up the possibility of studying plasmas with highly ionized ions (i.e., high-Z plasmas). Data Acquisition In the past 10 years, experimental physics has benefited greatly from advances in digital technology. Analog-to-digital converters and microprocessors have decreased drastically in price. Workstations are now available with 128 Mbyte of memory and 8 Gbyte of disk storage, and this trend shows no sign of saturating. A system with 106 channels of acquisition is capable of acquiring on the order of 1 Gbyte of data per second. Such a data acquisition system might consist of many parallel processors sharing a fast network and have 10 Gbyte of random access memory and 10 to 100 Tbyte of mass storage. This system would permit the study of nonuniform and fully three- dimensional plasma phenomena and plasma processes occurring on more than one spatial scale with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. Massively Parallel Plasma Diagnostics Interactions among plasma particles range from short-range collisions between individual particles to long-range, collective forces; consequently, plasmas frequently contain several different characteristic length scales. Magnetized plasmas are inherently anisotropic and nonlinear, exhibiting nonlocal behavior, chaotic particle motions, turbulence, and self-organization. The fundamental equation describing the plasma behavior of a many-body system of N charged particles is Liouville's equation for the distribution function in the 6N-dimensional phase space of the system. As a practical matter, theoretical descriptions of plasmas are frequently based on much simpler and more tractable equations. However, the assumptions concerning the statistical structure of the plasma, which buttress the derivations of these simpler treatments, have not been tested. In the next decade, a new generation of plasma experiments is likely to be able to make significant contributions in testing the validity of the approximations used to describe plasmas, for example, as fluids or as many- body systems described by kinetic theory or by a particular kind of particle correlation function. With what is now or will shortly become available, experimental plasma science will be able to explore a range of plasma problems with a precision and

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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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