Numerical investigations of parametric decay into trapped waves in magnetized plasmas with a non-monotonic density background

M.G. Senstius*, S.K. Nielsen, R.G.L. Vann

*Corresponding author for this work

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Parametric decay instabilities (PDIs) exciting daughter waves trapped inside a magnetized plasma with a non-monotonic density profile are investigated numerically. The investigation is motivated in particular by observations of low threshold PDI signatures during 2nd harmonic electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH) experiments in magnetically confined fusion experiments. We use the particle-in-cell (PIC) code EPOCH to study conversion of a fast X-mode pump wave into a combination of half frequency X-mode and electron Bernstein waves (EBWs), and identify two regimes where PDIs can excite trapped electrostatic waves. Above the 2nd harmonic upper hybrid (UH) density, a PDI known also as a two plasmon decay (TPD) instability excites a pair of UH waves which we locate in frequency and wavenumber space. At lower densities, a PDI known as stimulated Raman scattering may produce one trapped and one returning X-mode daughter wave with a much slower growth rate than the TPD instability. In both cases, we show that the frequency separation of the daughter waves depends on the density in a predictable manner. With little loss from the decay region, the trapped daughter waves become unstable with respect to secondary parametric instabilities (PIs), leading to distinctly different phases of the UH spectrum. Unlike the primary instability, the secondary PIs are shown to depend on ion dynamics. Furthermore, we observe escaping waves near the 3/2 pump frequency resulting from tertiary PIs in agreement with recently proposed backscattering during magnetically confined fusion experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number062102
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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