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Suggested Citation:"Recent Advances." 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 87 components of the magnetic field distinguish the different approaches. In the stellarator, the magnetic field is produced by current in external windings; in the tokamak, by plasma current for the poloidal field and an external current for the toroidal field; and in the RFP, predominantly by plasma current. Recent Advances Microwave and radio-frequency waves are now used to create ''true" stellarator plasmas without a net internal current, thus avoiding the problem of "disruptions" that destroy plasma confinement. The absence of a net internal current has allowed detailed demonstrations of the nature of the pressure-driven "bootstrap" current (which must be maximized in tokamaks and minimized in stellarators for optimum performance) through its dependence on magnetic field curvature, as well as its control (e.g., reversing its direction). The plasmas are quiescent with no global instabilities. Operation in the "second stability" regime (in which plasma stability increases with increasing pressure) has been obtained and a connection made with energy confinement. External control has allowed a wide range of magnetic configurations. The similarities in plasma confinement between stellarators with very different magnetic configurations, and between stellarators and tokamaks, suggest that similar mechanisms may be responsible for global transport. The confinement scaling is similar in some tokamaks and stellarators, although stellarators exhibit a more favorable density dependence. The edge fluctuation levels, the corresponding particle transport, and the properties of the edge plasma are similar in both devices. Particle confinement is controlled by the edge properties. It has been increased by using electrically biased limiters and decreased by using magnetic error fields. The improved energy confinement behavior seen in tokamaks is now also seen in stellarators. Initial experiments with biased plates that intercept field lines exiting the plasma (divertors) are encouraging for eventual steady-state particle control in stellarators. The RFP has evolved significantly during the past decade, both in the understanding of the physics and in the plasma parameters achieved. A fascinating property of the RFP is that it spontaneously generates a portion of its confining magnetic field. This constitutes a laboratory demonstration of the "dynamo" effect, analogous to the astrophysical dynamo responsible for magnetic field generation in stars. A thorough first-principles understanding of the dominant magnetic fluctuations in the RFP has been established through three-dimensional, nonlinear, magnetofluid computations. This theory agrees with experimental observation of fluctuation spectra and nonlinear three-wave coupling. It also offers a detailed explanation of the dynamo mechanism. The equilibrium magnetic field also is understood as a minimum energy state arising from plasma relaxation. These concepts carry over to tokamak phenomena, such as relaxation oscillations and disruptions. Recent attention has turned to the transport result

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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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