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Suggested Citation:"INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND." 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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NONNEUTRAL PLASMAS 47 2 Nonneutral Plasmas INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND A nonneutral plasma is a many-body collection of charged particles in which there is not overall charge neutrality. Such systems are characterized by self-electric fields and, in high-current configurations, self-generated magnetic fields. Single-component plasmas are an important class of nonneutral plasmas, the most common examples of which are pure electron and pure ion plasmas. For single-component plasmas in cylindrical geometry, there exists a stringent confinement theorem. The practical consequence of this theorem is that, in contrast to electrically neutral plasmas, a magnetized single-component plasma can be confined easily for very long times (e.g., hours). Therefore, thermal equilibrium and controlled departures from equilibrium can be achieved readily. Nonneutral plasmas exhibit a broad range of collective plasma behavior, such as plasma waves, instabilities, and Debye shielding. Moreover, the rotation and self-generated fields in these plasmas can have a significant effect on plasma properties and stability behavior. In addition to their importance in understanding fundamental aspects of the behavior of many-body charged-particle systems, there are many practical applications of nonneutral plasmas. Examples discussed elsewhere in this report include the generation of coherent radiation by intense charged-particle beams, the development of advanced accelerator concepts, and the stability of electron and ion flow in high-voltage diodes. Other applications include particle-beam fusion, and the stability and propagation of intense charged-particle beams through background plasma or through the atmosphere. This section focuses

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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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