Unexpected electrical current that could stabilize fusion reactions
Scientists have discovered that electrical currents can form in ways that were previously unknown. The new findings could enable researchers to better bring the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars to Earth.
For a planar electrostatic wave interacting with a single species in a collision-free plasma, conservation of momentum implies conservation of current. However, when multiple species interact with the wave, they can exchange an impulse, resulting in a current drive. A simple, general formula for this driven current is derived in the work of the physicists. As examples, they show how currents can be driven for Langmuir waves in electron-positron-ion plasmas and for ion-acoustic waves in electron-ion plasmas.
"It is very important to understand what processes create electrical currents in plasma and what phenomena might perturb those currents," said Ian Ochs, PhD student in the Plasma Physics program at Princeton University and lead author of a paper that is featured as a feature article in Physics of Plasmas selected. "
For those interested, read the article here:
Physics of Plasmas 27, 062109 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0011516