Suprathermal electron studies in Tokamak plasmas by means of diagnostic measurements and modeling

To achieve reactor-relevant conditions in a tokamak plasma, auxiliary heating systems are required and can be realized by waves injected in the plasma that heat ions or electrons under certain conditions. Electron cyclotron resonant heating (ECRH) is a very flexible and robust technique featuring localized power deposition and current drive (CD) capabilities. Its fundamental principles such as damping on the cyclotron resonance are well understood and the application of ECRH is a proven and established tool; electron cyclotron current drive (ECCD) is regularly used to develop advanced scenarios and control magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) instabilities in the plasma by tailoring the current profile. There remain important open questions, such as the phase space dynamics, the observed radial broadening of the suprathermal electron distribution function (e.d.f.) and discrepancies in predicted and experimental CD efficiency. These are addressed in this thesis. One of its main goals is indeed to improve the understanding of wave-particle interaction in plasmas and current drive mechanisms. This was accomplished by combined experimental and numerical studies, strongly based on the conjunction of hard X-ray (HXR) bremsstrahlung measurements and Fokker-Planck modeling, characterizing the suprathermal electron population. The hard X-ray tomographic spectrometer (HXRS) diagnostic was purposely developed to perform these studies, in particular by investigating spatial HXR emission asymmetries in the co- and counter-current directions and within the poloidal plane. The system uses cadmium-telluride (CdTe) detectors and digital acquisition to store the complete time history of incoming photon pulses. An extensive study of digital pulse processing algorithms was performed and its consequent application allows the HXRS to handle high count rates in a noisy tokamak environment. Numerous other numerical tools were developed in the course of this thesis, among others to improve the time resolution by conditional averaging and to obtain local information with the general tomographic inversion (GTI) package. The interfaces of the comparatively new LUKE code and well-established CQL3D Fokker-Planck (F-P) code to the tokamak à configuration variable (TCV) data were refurbished and a detailed benchmarking of these two codes was performed for the first time. Indeed, the theory-predicted toroidal and poloidal emission asymmetries could be consistently verified by experiment and modeling in many cases, including scans of a variety of plasma and wave parameters. The effects of supra\-thermal electron diffusion and radio frequency (RF) wave scattering, both resulting in a radial broadening of the HXR emission, were separated by a poloidal deposition location angle scan. Furthermore, previous results on anomalous diffusion and CD efficiency were reproduced with increased confidence arising from enhanced diagnostic specifications. The plasma response to electron cyclotron (EC) absorption and the role of quasi-linear effects were investigated using the coherent averaging capabilities of the HXRS. Several MHD instabilities can occur in the plasma center and better understanding of these modes and events is indispensable for their mitigation in order to prevent their negative effects on confinement and stability. Sawtooth crashes are such a major instability and localized at the q=1 surface. They can be described as the evolution of an internal m=1 kink mode leading to [...]

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