Recent gyrokinetic stability calculations have revealed that the spherical tokamak is susceptible to tearing parity instabilities with length scales of a few ion Larmor radii perpendicular to the magnetic field lines. Here we investigate this 'micro-tearing' mode in greater detail to uncover its key characteristics and compare it with existing theoretical models of the phenomenon. This has been accomplished using a full numerical solution of the linear gyrokinetic-Maxwell equations. Importantly, the instability is found to be driven by the free energy in the electron temperature gradient as described in the literature. However, our calculations suggest it is not substantially affected by either of the destabilizing mechanisms proposed in previous theoretical models. Instead the instability is destabilized by interactions with magnetic drifts and the electrostatic potential. Further calculations reveal that the mode is not significantly destabilized by the flux surface shaping or the large trapped particle fraction present in the spherical tokamak. Its prevalence in spherical tokamak plasmas is primarily due to the higher value of plasma β and the enhanced magnetic drifts due to the smaller radius of curvature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Condensed Matter Physics