Negative-mass instability in nonlinear plasma waves

I. Y. Dodin, P. F. Schmit, J. Rocks, N. J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The negative-mass instability, previously found in ion traps, appears as a distinct regime of the sideband instability in nonlinear plasma waves with trapped particles. As the bounce frequency of these particles decreases with the bounce action, bunching can occur if the action distribution is inverted in trapping islands. In contrast to existing theories that also infer instabilities from the anharmonicity of bounce oscillations, spatial periodicity of the islands turns out to be unimportant, and the particle distribution can be unstable even if it is flat at the resonance. An analytical model is proposed that describes both single traps and periodic nonlinear waves and concisely generalizes the conventional description of the sideband instability in plasma waves. The theoretical results are supported by particle-in-cell simulations carried out for a regime accentuating the negative-mass instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number215006
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 22 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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