Critical role of isopotential surfaces for magnetostatic ponderomotive forces

Ian E. Ochs, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By producing localized wave regions at the ends of an open-field-line magnetic confinement system, ponderomotive walls can be used to differentially confine different species in the plasma. Furthermore, if the plasma is rotating, this wall can be magnetostatic in the laboratory frame, resulting in simpler engineering and better power flow. However, recent work on such magnetostatic walls has shown qualitatively different potentials than those found in the earlier, nonrotating theory. Here, using a simple slab model of a ponderomotive wall, we resolve this discrepancy. We show that the form of the ponderomotive potential in the comoving plasma frame depends on the assumption made about the electrostatic potential in the laboratory frame. If the laboratory-frame potential is unperturbed by the magnetic oscillation, one finds a parallel-polarized wave in the comoving frame, while if each field line remains equipotential throughout the perturbation region, one finds a perpendicularly polarized wave. This in turn dramatically changes the averaged ponderomotive force experienced by a charged particle along the field line, not only its scaling, but also its direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065210
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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