Trapped upper hybrid waves as eigenmodes of non-monotonic background density profiles

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Non-monotonic plasma density structures such as blobs and magnetic islands give rise to trapped upper hybrid (UH) waves. Trapped UH waves which satisfy Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization can be thought of as eigenmodes of a cavity. Using fully kinetic particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, we verify the existence of these UH eigenmodes and demonstrate their significance as only eigenfrequencies become unstable to three-wave interactions. The eigenmodes can be excited through parametric decay instabilities (PDIs) of an X-mode pump wave at approximately twice the UH frequency, as could be the case for a gyrotron beam traversing a blob in a magnetically confined fusion plasma. We derive a closed expression for the wavenumber of UH waves, which is accurate both close to the UH layer and to the electron cyclotron resonance. This allows for fast analysis of eigenmodes in a non-monotonic structure. An expression for the amplification of PDI daughter waves in an inhomogeneous plasma is extended to a decay region where the first several derivatives vanish. From the amplification in a convective PDI, we estimate the growth rate of the absolute PDI involving the trapped waves. We show that the excitation of eigenmodes through PDIs in our simulations are indeed absolute rather than convective due to the trapping of the daughter waves. Additionally, we show that only eigenmodes get excited through the PDIs, and that we are able to predict the growth rates of the daughter waves and how they scale with the pump wave intensity. This is evidence supporting a fundamental assumption of analytical theory describing low threshold strong scattering observed in magnetically confined fusion experiments during second harmonic electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH). Such low threshold instabilities can degrade ECRH performance but also offer novel uses for ion heating or as diagnostics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Trapped upper hybrid waves as eigenmodes of non-monotonic background density profiles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this