The physics of electron internal transport barriers in the TCV tokamak
Electron internal transport barriers (elTBs) are generated in the TCV tokamak with strong electron cyclotron resonance heating in a variety of conditions, ranging from steady-state fully noninductive scenarios to stationary discharges with a finite inductive component and finally to transient current ramps without current drive. The confinement improvement over L-mode ranges from 3 to 6; the bootstrap current fraction is invariably large and is above 70% in the highest confinement cases, with good current profile alignment permitting the attainment of steady state. Barriers are observed both in the electron temperature and density profiles, with a strong correlation both in location and in steepness. The dominant role of the current profile in the formation and properties of elTBs has been conclusively proven in a TCV experiment exploiting the large current drive efficiency of the Ohmic transformer: small current perturbations accompanied by negligible energy transfer dramatically alter the confinement. The crucial element in the formation of the barrier is the appearance of a central region of negative magnetic shear, with the barrier strength improving with increasingly steep shear. This connection has also been corroborated by transport modelling assisted by gyrofluid simulations. Rational safety-factor (q) values do not appear to play a role in the barrier formation, at least in the q range 1.3-2.3, as evidenced by the smooth dependence of the confinement enhancement on the loop voltage over a broad elTB database. MHD mode activity is however influenced by rational q values and results in a complex, sometimes cyclic, dynamic evolution.