Critical gradients and plasma flows in the edge plasma of Alcator C-Mod

B. Labombard, J.W. Hughes, N. Smick, K. Marr, R. McDermott, M. Reinke, M. Greenwald, B. Lipschultz, J.L. Terry, D.G. Whyte, A. Graf, S.J. Zweben

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Recent experiments have led to a fundamental shift in our view of edge transport physics; transport near the last-closed flux surface may be more appropriately described in terms of a critical gradient phenomenon rather than a diffusive and/or convective paradigm. Edge pressure gradients, normalized by the square of the poloidal magnetic field strength, appear invariant in plasmas with the same normalized collisionality, despite vastly different currents and magnetic fields-a behavior that connects with first-principles electromagnetic plasma turbulence simulations. Near-sonic scrape-off layer (SOL) flows impose a cocurrent rotation boundary condition on the confined plasma when B×∇B points toward the active x-point, suggesting a link to the concomitant reduction in input power needed to attain high-confinement modes. Indeed, low-confinement mode plasmas are found to attain higher edge pressure gradients in this configuration, independent of the direction of B, evidence that SOL flows may affect transport and "critical gradient" values in the edge plasma.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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