Extended electron tails in electrostatic microinstabilities and the nonadiabatic response of passing electrons

M. R. Hardman, F. I. Parra, C. Chong, T. Adkins, M. S. Anastopoulos-Tzanis, M. Barnes, D. Dickinson, J. F. Parisi, H. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ion-gyroradius-scale microinstabilities typically have a frequency comparable to the ion transit frequency. Due to the small electron-to-ion mass ratio and the large electron transit frequency, it is conventionally assumed that passing electrons respond adiabatically in ion-gyroradius-scale modes. However, in gyrokinetic simulations of ion-gyroradius-scale modes in axisymmetric toroidal magnetic fields, the nonadiabatic response of passing electrons can drive the mode, and generate fluctuations in narrow radial layers, which may have consequences for turbulent transport in a variety of circumstances. In flux tube simulations, in the ballooning representation, these instabilities reveal themselves as modes with extended tails. The small electron-to-ion mass ratio limit of linear gyrokinetics for electrostatic instabilities is presented, in axisymmetric toroidal magnetic geometry, including the nonadiabatic response of passing electrons and associated narrow radial layers. This theory reveals the existence of ion-gyroradius-scale modes driven solely by the nonadiabatic passing electron response, and recovers the usual ion-gyroradius-scale modes driven by the response of ions and trapped electrons, where the nonadiabatic response of passing electrons is small. The collisionless and collisional limits of the theory are considered, demonstrating parallels in structure and physical processes to neoclassical transport theory. By examining initial-value simulations of the fastest-growing eigenmodes, the predictions for mass-ratio scaling are tested and verified numerically for a range of collision frequencies. Insight from the small electron-to-ion mass ratio theory may lead to a computationally efficient treatment of extended modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055004
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Volume64
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Keywords

  • electron response
  • gyrokinetics
  • magnetic confinement fusion
  • microinstabilities
  • turbulence

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