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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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MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 86 tionship between shear in the radial electric field and the transition from the relatively poor L-mode confinement to the significantly improved H-mode confinement regime. Future Prospects There is a clear synergism between the need for improved diagnostic capabilities and advances in plasma science that either result from meeting that need or are the means to drive the improvement. Of the many areas that will continue to demand attention in the future, the most important may be the need to develop diagnostics for measuring properties of burning fusion plasmas. Most state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques have to be reexamined when the harsh neutron and radiation environment of a power-producing plasma is considered. With burning plasma, we are faced with the additional task of diagnosing the confinement and slowing down the alpha particles that must ultimately provide the power to sustain an ignited fusion plasma. Although much has already been accomplished in these areas, innovation in the next decade must proceed at a pace at least as rapid as that of the last 10 years. In addition, measurements of other fusion products, as well as stability and confinement of reacting plasmas in the presence of copious amounts of alpha particles, must proceed. NON-TOKAMAK CONCEPTS Introduction and Background Fusion plasma physics has historically evolved through the exploration of a variety of magnetic configurations. The tokamak is the most highly developed concept, and the most of the discussion presented above concentrated on this configuration. However, the need for innovative and diverse ideas is as vital as ever in view of the projected multidecade development that lies ahead for fusion. The main non-tokamak concepts presently under investigation are the stellarator, the reversed-field pinch (RFP), and the compact torus. Each has potential advantages over the tokamak and is a unique source for new plasma physics information. Stellarators have the potential for a steady-state reactor without the need for the inductively driven current. Reversed-field pinches, with a relatively weak magnetic field, offer the potential for a compact, high-power- density reactor with normal (non-superconducting) coils. Compact tori offer a reactor geometry in which the plasma torus does not link external conductors. The magnetic mirror approach to fusion is not discussed here since research on this concept ended in the mid 1980s. The stellarator and reversed-field pinch share the same magnetic topology with the tokamak: toroidally nested, closed magnetic surfaces produced by helical magnetic fields. The relative strengths and origin of the toroidal and poloidal

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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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