The effects of kinetic instabilities on the electron cyclotron emission from runaway electrons

Chang Liu, Lei Shi, Eero Hirvijoki, Dylan P. Brennan, Amitava Bhattacharjee, Carlos Paz-Soldan, Max E. Austin

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20 Scopus citations


In this paper we show that the kinetic instabilities associated with runaway electron beams play an essential role for the production of high-level non-thermal electron-cyclotron-emission (ECE) radiation. Most of the non-thermal ECE comes from runaway electrons in the low-energy regime with large pitch angle, which are strongly scattered by the excited whistler waves. The power of ECE from runaway electrons is obtained using a synthetic diagnostic model based on the reciprocity method. The electron distribution function is calculated using a kinetic simulation model including the whistler wave instabilities and the quasilinear diffusion effects. Simulations based on DIII-D low-density discharge reproduces the rapid growth of the ECE signals observed in DIII-D experiments. Unlike the thermal ECE where radiation for a certain frequency is strongly localized inside the resonance region, the non-thermal ECE radiation from runaway electrons is nonlocal, and the emission-absorption ratio is higher than that of thermal electrons. The runaway electron tail is more significant for ECE with higher frequencies, and the ECE spectrum becomes flatter as RE population grows. The nonlinear behavior of the kinetic instabilities is illustrated in the oscillations of the ECE waves. The good agreement with the DIII-D experimental observations after including the kinetic instabilities clearly illustrate the significance of the scattering effects from wave-particle interactions, which can also be important for runaway electrons produced in disruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number096030
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 12 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • electron cyclotron emission
  • kinetic instability
  • runaway electron
  • synthetic diagnostic


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