Three-wave scattering in magnetized plasmas: From cold fluid to quantized Lagrangian

Yuan Shi, Hong Qin, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Large amplitude waves in magnetized plasmas, generated either by external pumps or internal instabilities, can scatter via three-wave interactions. While three-wave scattering is well known in collimated geometry, what happens when waves propagate at angles with one another in magnetized plasmas remains largely unknown, mainly due to the analytical difficulty of this problem. In this paper, we overcome this analytical difficulty and find a convenient formula for three-wave coupling coefficient in cold, uniform, magnetized, and collisionless plasmas in the most general geometry. This is achieved by systematically solving the fluid-Maxwell model to second order using a multiscale perturbative expansion. The general formula for the coupling coefficient becomes transparent when we reformulate it as the scattering matrix element of a quantized Lagrangian. Using the quantized Lagrangian, it is possible to bypass the perturbative solution and directly obtain the nonlinear coupling coefficient from the linear response of the plasma. To illustrate how to evaluate the cold coupling coefficient, we give a set of examples where the participating waves are either quasitransverse or quasilongitudinal. In these examples, we determine the angular dependence of three-wave scattering, and demonstrate that backscattering is not necessarily the strongest scattering channel in magnetized plasmas, in contrast to what happens in unmagnetized plasmas. Our approach gives a more complete picture, beyond the simple collimated geometry, of how injected waves can decay in magnetic confinement devices, as well as how lasers can be scattered in magnetized plasma targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023204
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 14 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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