National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

Chapter:Quasilinear Effects and Single-Wave Stochasticity.

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Suggested Citation:"Quasilinear Effects and Single-Wave Stochasticity.." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
Suggested Citation:"Quasilinear Effects and Single-Wave Stochasticity.." 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 137 tethered shuttle experiment), solar physics, the study of helicity generation and helicity injection, and the behavior of three-dimensional current systems. Chaos and Turbulence Chaos. Accurate description of the plasma dielectric response relies on integration of the perturbation caused by an applied field along the trajectory of plasma particles. The perturbed currents and densities thus obtained may then be put into Maxwell's equations to determine the wave dispersion. However, even in a uniform magnetized plasma, the application of a single, finite-amplitude plane wave can be sufficient to render the particle orbits chaotic, and no self- consistent theory exists for the plasma dielectric response in this case. Experiments have now determined that non-self-consistent chaos theory correctly predicts several aspects of wave-induced particle chaos, as long as the wave amplitude is sufficiently small. Conservation laws describing the particle orbits, even during chaotic particle motion, have also been identified. Chaotic heating of plasmas has been observed, not only from externally launched waves but also from spontaneous, unstable waves in a plasma that is externally driven. These experiments were made possible by laser-induced fluorescence techniques that have advanced dramatically in the last decade. Quasilinear Effects and Single-Wave Stochasticity. A series of experiments in single-component electron plasmas, which were carefully designed to eliminate the complications arising from ion dynamics, have tested the fundamental assumptions of "quasilinear theory," the standard model of weak plasma turbulence. These experiments demonstrated the importance of mode-coupling effects in modifying the wave-particle interactions described by the theory. In particular, in the presence of a mildly nonmonotonic particle distribution, unstable waves were found to grow and then saturate at the level predicted by the theory. However, the growth rates of individual waves were found to depend on the rates at which other waves grew, and this is not accounted for in the theory. Thus, a complete understanding of this important problem has yet to be achieved. This topic is related to the common assumption of the "random phase approximation" in turbulence theory, which is central to current descriptions of weak turbulence. The potential for new experiments in this area is discussed below in the context of turbulence and turbulent transport. Complementary experiments have observed the evolution of a large- amplitude monochromatic wave to a stochastic signal, via sideband generation and trapped-particle dynamics. A very important, but as yet unresolved, question is the detailed mechanism by which a single, large-amplitude wave is transformed into the background of weak turbulence that can be addressed by quasilinear theory.

BASIC PLASMA EXPERIMENTS 138 FIGURE 8.1 Experimental study of magnetic reconnection processes in the merging of two spheromak plasmas. This experiment demonstrated that the three-dimensional structure of the magnetic field is crucial to the merger process in that the difference between the cohelicity and counter-helicity merger process is due to the relative directions of the out-ofplane components of the magnetic field in the two plasmas. A new mechanism of plasma acceleration (perpendicular to the plane of the figure) was discovered in the course of this work. (Reprinted, by permission, from M. Yamada, F.W. Perkins, A.K. MacAulay, Y. Ono, and M. Katsurai, Physics of Fluids B 3:2379, 1991. Copyright © 1991 by the American Institute of Physics.)

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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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