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Suggested Citation:"Nonlinear Plasma Processes." 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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THEORETICAL AND COMPUTATIONAL PLASMA PHYSICS 163 Free-electron Lasers and High-Power Microwave Sources Significant progress has been made in the fundamental nonlinear theory of high-power, coherent radiation generation in free-electron devices such as gyrotrons and free-electron lasers, particularly in areas related to nonlinear saturation mechanisms and efficiency optimization, mode selection and phase stability, and the effects of stochastic particle orbits. This has led to a new generation of laboratory microwave sources that have applications ranging from heating and noninductive current drive in fusion plasmas to communications and radar. RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES This section identifies future research opportunities of fundamental importance in theoretical and computational plasma physics, including basic plasma theory and applications to laboratory plasmas, and space and astrophysical plasmas. Additional research opportunities in plasma theory and computations are incorporated in other chapters of this report. Basic Plasma Theory and Applications to Laboratory Plasmas The creative interplay between theoretical and computational studies and laboratory experimentation has been the classic engine that advances scientific understanding. In recent years, computations have begun to serve partially the role of experiments, with "simulation experiments" revealing unanticipated structures and coherences. The panel's vision of research frontiers in plasma physics during the next decade presumes that a program in basic laboratory experimentation will come into being, so that the range of topics investigated will be appreciably broader than those topics tied almost exclusively to fusion physics and defense applications. Of course, this will serve to extend and test current theoretical capabilities and to present qualitatively new challenges. Hence, the synergism among basic plasma theory, laboratory experiments, and space and astro-physical plasma observations promises to play an appreciably stronger role during the next decade. Continuing progress is expected to be made in all of the areas identified earlier in the preceding section, "Recent Advances." In addition, the following topics, surely not comprehensive or mutually exclusive, represent research opportunities of high intellectual challenge in basic plasma theory and applications to laboratory plasmas. Nonlinear Plasma Processes Much of the progress in plasma physics during the past has been made by linear (small-signal) theory, which has provided conceptual and in many cases

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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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