Confinement of Non-neutral Plasmas in Stellarator Magnetic Surfaces

Paul Brenner

Confinement of Non-neutral Plasmas in Stellarator Magnetic Surfaces
Brenner, Paul
Thesis Advisor(s):
Pedersen, Thomas S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
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The Columbia Non-neutral Torus (CNT) is the first experiment designed to create and study small Debye length non-neutral plasmas confined by magnetic surfaces. This thesis describes experimental confinement studies of non-neutral plasmas on magnetic surfaces in CNT. Open orbits exist in CNT resulting in electron loss rates that are much faster than initially predicted. For this reason a conforming boundary was designed and installed to address what is believed to be the primary cause of open orbits: the existence of a sizable mismatch between the electrostatic potential surfaces and the magnetic surfaces. After installation a record confinement time of 337 ms was measured, more than an order of magnitude improvement over the previous 20 ms record. This improvement was a combination of the predicted improvement in orbit quality, a reduced Debye length that resulted in decreased transport due to the perturbing insulated rods, and improved operating parameters not indicative of any new physics. The perturbation caused by the insulated rods that hold emitters on axis in CNT is a source of electron transport and would provide a loss mechanism for positrons in future positron-electron plasma experiments. For these reasons an emitter capable of creating plasmas then being removed faster than the confinement time was built and installed. Measurements of plasma decay after emitter retraction indicate that ion accumulation reduces the length of time that plasmas are confined. Plasmas have been measured after retraction with decay times as long as 92 ms after the emitter has left the last closed flux surface. Experimental observations show that obstructing one side of an emitting filament with a nearby insulator substantially improves confinement. As a result, experiments have been performed to determine whether a two stream instability affects confinement in CNT. Results indicate that the improvement is not caused by reducing a two stream instability. Instead, the improvement is a result of altering the sheath of the emitting filament which allows the plasma to reach an equilibrium state with improved confinement. These measurements agree with confinement times for plasmas created by unobstructed emission that are in the same improved confinement state.
Plasma (Ionized gases)
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Suggested Citation:
Paul Brenner, , Confinement of Non-neutral Plasmas in Stellarator Magnetic Surfaces, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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