Pushing particles with waves: Current drive and α-channeling

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It can be advantageous to push particles with waves in tokamaks or other magnetic confinement devices, relying on wave-particle resonances to accomplish specific goals. Waves that damp on electrons or ions in toroidal fusion devises can drive currents if the waves are launched with toroidal asymmetry. Theses currents are important for tokamaks, since they operate in the absence of an electric field with curl, enabling steady state operation. The lower hybrid wave and the electron cyclotron wave have been demonstrated to drive significant currents. Noninductive current also stabilizes deleterious tearing modes. Waves can also be used to broker the energy transfer between energetic alpha particles and the background plasma. Alpha particles born through fusion reactions in a tokamak reactor tend to slow down on electrons, but that could take up to hundreds of milliseconds. Before that happens, the energy in these alpha particles can destabilize on collisionless timescales toroidal Alfven modes and other waves, in a way deleterious to energy confinement. However, it has been speculated that this energy might be instead be channeled instead into useful energy, that heats fuel ions or drives current. An important question is the extent to which these effects can be accomplished together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2101010
JournalPlasma and Fusion Research
Issue numberSpecialissue1
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • Alpha channeling
  • ECCD
  • LHCD
  • Noninductive current drive
  • Phase-space engineering


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