The effect of ECRH on the electron velocity distribution function
Electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH) is a mature technology that has progressed constantly over a period of forty years, particularly as a tool in magnetic confinement fusion. As with other heating methods, this technique has seen a steady increase in the sophistication of its applications, from bulk heating through profile tailoring and finally to distribution function engineering. By comparison with other techniques, ECRH presents the significant advantages of good coupling, localized power deposition, easy launching and precise directionality. This paper reviews some recent applications related to third harmonic ECRH and highlights the role of the relaxation dynamics of suprathermal electrons, both in real space and in velocity space, in regulating the overall effect of ECRH on fusion plasmas. A technique for direct visualization of these relaxation phenomena, using modulated ECRH, is described and demonstrated.