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Suggested Citation:"Future Prospects." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page 83

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MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 83 arranged by proper phasing of the antenna elements), net momentum is transferred to charged particles (usually electrons), thereby generating a net toroidal plasma current. Since rf generators can be operated continuously (cw, or continuous wave operation) at the megawatt power level, a steady-state tokamak operation may become feasible. In spite of its complexity, the physics of waves in plasmas presents one of the best-understood and most scientifically established disciplines in plasma science. Many aspects of this subject have been verified in fundamental "basic physics" experiments, while some aspects are still under study in the complex field geometry of toroidal configurations. However, the nonlinear aspects of wave propagation still are not well understood. Past Achievements Over the past decade, the scientific discipline of radio-frequency heating and current drive in plasmas has seen rapid growth both in the United States and abroad. As in the case of neutral-beam heating, most rf experiments on fusion plasmas in the 1970s consisted of sources amounting to only a few hundred kilowatts, increasing to the ~1-MW level in the early 1980s and culminating recently at the 22-MW injected power level in the ion-cyclotron (ICRF) frequency range. Impressive heating results have been obtained recently in large tokamak devices, where central electron temperatures up to 13 keV have been achieved. In agreement with theoretical projections, directly accelerated "minority ion" species with up to MeV energies have been observed. Detailed energy analysis of these energetic ions shows excellent agreement with "quasi- linear" wave-particle interaction theories and large simulation codes, one of the triumphs of modern plasma theory. Perhaps even more striking results have been obtained in the area of noninductive current drive by rf waves. In this case, the waves not only heat the plasma (i,e., transfer wave energy to particles) but also transfer net momentum in the toroidal direction. In the past decade, current drive by rf waves has been verified in nearly all frequency regimes. Recently, in Japan, currents at the 3.5- MA level have been driven by multimegawatt lower-hybrid waves. Since these currents are often driven by electrons with energies of 100s of keV, it has been possible to study the transport of these energetic electrons by x-ray imaging techniques. Another scientific spinoff of these experiments is a better understanding of stochastic acceleration of charged particles in electromagnetic wave fields. This may have important application to astrophysical and space plasmas. Future Prospects Radio-frequency heating and current drive will likely be used in all future toroidal plasma devices. While ICRF power is eminently suitable for bulk

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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