Analysis and modeling of edge fluctuations and transport mechanism in the Maryland Centrifugal Experiment

Uzun-Kaymak I. U., Guzdar P. N., Clary R., Ellis R. F., Hassam A. B., Teodorescu C.

PHYSICS OF PLASMAS, vol.15, no.11, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1063/1.3028312
  • Journal Name: PHYSICS OF PLASMAS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The Maryland Centrifugal Experiment [R. F. Ellis , Phys. Plasmas 12, 055704 (2005)] is a mirror machine designed to have a plasma axially confined by supersonic rotation and dominantly interchange stable by the radial shear in the azimuthal velocity. Nevertheless, residual fluctuations still persist. To investigate the presence of such fluctuations, an azimuthal array of 16 magnetic pickup coils at the edge region of the plasma has been employed. A comprehensive analysis of the magnetic fluctuations reveals that, under the imposed shear flow, only m=0 and m=2 modes are dominant; yet, the observed frequency spectrum is broadband. Using higher order spectral analysis, clear evidence of nonlinear mode coupling is detected. It is also observed that the amplification of magnetic fluctuations leads to enhanced transport consistent with the drop of the plasma density and voltage. As a result, the magnetic fluctuations start to decrease in amplitude as the central plasma pressure drops. In return, the anomalous radial particle and momentum transport are reduced; thus, the plasma confinement improves. As the plasma pressure starts to build up, the plasma voltage increases, destabilizing the m=2 interchange mode. The cycle of enhanced transport and intermittent fluctuations repeats itself. A two-dimensional magnetohydrodynamics code in slab geometry is employed to investigate the dynamics of the primary interchange instability and to assess the level of transport. For very low sheared rotation, a broad spatial spectrum of unstable modes is obtained. As the sheared rotation is increased, the high mode numbers become stabilized and low mode numbers dominate the spectrum. Both the experimental data obtained from the azimuthal array probes and the simulations in case of parabolic shear flow show clear evidence of nonlinear mode coupling, explaining the broadband frequency spectrum for low mode numbers. A detailed comparison of spatiotemporal dynamics of simulations with the experimental data is presented.