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Experimental Studies of Multi-Species Pure Ion Plasmas: Cyclotron Modes, Long-Range Collisional Drag, and Non-Linear Langmuir Waves

  • Author(s): Affolter, Matthew;
  • Advisor(s): Driscoll, C. Fred;
  • et al.

Cyclotron modes are studied on rigid rotor, multi-species ion plasmas confined in a Penning-Malmberg trap. Collective effects and radial electric fields shift the cyclotron mode frequencies away from the ``bare'' cyclotron frequencies for each species s. These frequency shifts are measured on the distinct cyclotron modes (m = 0, 1, and 2) with sinusoidal azimuthal dependence. We find that the frequency shifts corroborate a simple theory expression in which collective effects enter only through the ExB rotation frequency and the species fraction, when the plasma is radially uniform. At ultra-low temperatures, these plasmas exhibit centrifugal separation by mass, and additional frequency shifts are observed in agreement with a more general theory. Additionally, quantitative measurements of the plasma heating from short resonant cyclotron bursts are found to be proportional to the species fraction.

These cyclotron modes are used as a diagnostic tool to estimate the plasma composition, in order to investigate the damping of Langmuir waves due to inter-species collisions. Experiments and theory of this collisional inter-species drag damping are presented. This also provides the first experimental confirmation of recent theory predicting enhanced collisional slowing due to long-range collisions. Drag damping theory, proportional to the collisional slowing rate, is in quantitative agreement with the experimental results only when these long-range collisions are included, exceeding classical collision calculations by as much as an order of magnitude.

At large wave amplitudes, Langmuir waves exhibit harmonic generation, non-linear frequency shifts, and a parametric decay instability, which are experimentally investigated. The parametric wave-wave coupling rates are in agreement with three-wave instability theory in the dispersion dominated oscillatory coupling regime, and in the phase-locked exponential decay regime. However, significant variations are observed near the decay threshold, including slow, oscillatory growth of the daughter wave. These experimental results have motivated wide-ranging theory and simulations, which provide both insights and puzzles.

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