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Direct Measurements of Nonlocal Heat Flux in Laser-Produced Coronal Plasmas Using Thomson Scattering from Electron-Plasma Waves

Bob Henchen, PhD Defense

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
2 p.m.
Hopeman 224

In diverse fields of plasma physics including astrophysics, inertial confinement fusion, and magnetohydrodynamics, classical thermal transport provides the foundation for calculating heat flux. The classical theories of thermal transport [e.g., Spitzer–Härm (SH) and Braginskii] break down in the presence of large temperature gradients, turbulence, or return current instabilities: they do not include nonlocal effects where energetic electrons travel distances comparable with the temperature scale length (LT) before colliding. Nonlocal theories have improved upon and established the limits of classical transport (λei/LT10-2) by accounting for the velocity dependence of the mean free path (λei). These limits were confirmed by a novel Thomson-scattering technique that provided the first direct measurement of nonlocal heat flux. The heat flux was measured directly from the amplitudes of the Langmuir fluctuations and indirectly through the electron temperature and density profiles (qSH =-κTe), and were enabled by setting the Thomson-scattering geometry to probe Langmuir fluctuations with phase velocities near the range of the heat-carrying electrons (vφ∼3.5th). The measured heat flux agreed with classical SH values when λei/LT<10-2, but in the opposite limit, the differences were as large as a factor of 2. Vlasov–Fokker–Planck simulations self-consistently calculated the electron distribution functions used to reproduce the measured Thomson-scattering spectra and to determine the heat flux. The multigroup nonlocal Schurtz–Nicolaï–Busquet (SNB) model overpredicted for all values of λei/LT, demonstrating the need to include physics often missing from computationally expedient nonlocal models.