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Title: Understanding turbulence in compressing plasmas and its exploitation or prevention
Authors: Davidovits, Seth
Advisors: Fisch, Nathaniel J
Contributors: Astrophysical Sciences—Plasma Physics Program Department
Keywords: compression
fast ignition
molecular clouds
z pinch
Subjects: Plasma physics
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Unprecedented densities and temperatures are now achieved in compressions of plasma, by lasers and by pulsed power, in major experimental facilities. These compressions, carried out at the largest scale at the National Ignition Facility and at the Z Pulsed Power Facility, have important applications, including fusion, X-ray production, and materials research. Several experimental and simulation results suggest that the plasma in some of these compressions is turbulent. In fact, measurements suggest that in certain laboratory plasma compressions the turbulent energy is a dominant energy component. Similarly, turbulence is dominant in some compressing astrophysical plasmas, such as in molecular clouds. Turbulence need not be dominant to be important; even small quantities could greatly influence experiments that are sensitive to mixing of non-fuel into fuel, such as compressions seeking fusion ignition. Despite its important role in major settings, bulk plasma turbulence under compression is insufficiently understood to answer or even to pose some of the most fundamental questions about it. This thesis both identifies and answers key questions in compressing turbulent motion, while providing a description of the behavior of three-dimensional, isotropic, compressions of homogeneous turbulence with a plasma viscosity. This description includes a simple, but successful, new model for the turbulent energy of plasma undergoing compression. The unique features of compressing turbulence with a plasma viscosity are shown, including the sensitivity of the turbulence to plasma ionization, and a ``sudden viscous dissipation'' effect which rapidly converts plasma turbulent energy into thermal energy. This thesis then examines turbulence in both laboratory compression experiments and molecular clouds. It importantly shows: the possibility of exploiting turbulence to make fusion or X-ray production more efficient; conditions under which hot-spot turbulence can be prevented; and a lower bound on the growth of turbulence in molecular clouds. This bound raises questions about the level of dissipation in existing molecular cloud models. Finally, the observations originally motivating the thesis, Z-pinch measurements suggesting dominant turbulent energy, are reexamined by self-consistently accounting for the impact of the turbulence on the spectroscopic analysis. This is found to strengthen the evidence that the multiple observations describe a highly turbulent plasma state.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Plasma Physics

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