Measurement of edge electrostatic turbulence in the TCV tokamak plasma boundary

Almost since the first density profile measurements were made in the scrape-off layer (SOL) of the early tokamaks, it has been recognized that the rate of particle transport perpendicular to magnetic surfaces exceeds that expected on the basis of classical collisional diffusion by as much as three orders of magnitude. Plasma turbulence has rightfully been claimed as the origin of such large discrepancies, much as it has for enhanced (over classical or neoclassical) transport rates observed in the confined plasma. But in the SOL, the "bursty" or "blobby" nature of the measured density fluctuations is of a much higher amplitude than that found in the core, making large-scale, convective fluid turbulence a strong candidate mechanism. This thesis will demonstrate quantitatively and unequivocally, for the first time, that such interchange motions are indeed the driver for the edge density and particle flux fluctuations observed on the Tokamak a Configuration Variable (TCV). Since the principle driver of this turbulence is a curved magnetic field, with gradient direction matching that of the local edge plasma pressure profile, together with a region of open magnetic field lines, the interchange mechanism identified here is very likely to be the very same process at the root of transport in all tokamak SOLs. In showing that the measured turbulence driven cross-field particle flux in TCV is quantitatively consistent with interchange physics, a path is opened by which the anomalous transport rates might be estimated in a predictive way for larger tokamaks, like the ITER device, which are yet to be built but for which concerns are now being raised that such transport might lead to excessive plasma-wall interactions. Using a fast reciprocating Langmuir probe, fluctuation measurements have been made in the TCV low-field-side SOL across a wide range of ohmic discharges comprising variations in plasma shape and configuration (limiter and divertor), plasma current, confinement mode (L and H), plasma density, toroidal magnetic field direction and plasma fuel species (deuterium and helium). Statistical analysis of the time series is used to demonstrate a remarkable degree of similarity across the database and to show that the radial dependence of the probability distribution functions (PDFs) of flux and density fluctuations can be well approximated by the known Gamma and Lognormal analytic PDFs, characterized in terms only of the relative fluctuation levels. In the vicinity of the SOL-main chamber interface, where particles interact with the walls, the density fluctuations exhibit clear evidence of self-similarity over two orders of magnitude in frequency and a PDF which is universal in shape. The observed constancy of the correlation between density and poloidal field fluctuations in turn implies a universal PDF for the radial particle flux which moreover is found to scale almost linearly with the local mean density. Careful comparison of one particular case inside the experimental database with the results of 2D fluid turbulence simulations of the TCV SOL using the ESEL code developed at the Risø National Laboratory, Denmark has shown a remarkable level of agreement between theory and experiment when the simulation output time series is analyzed in exactly the same way as that applied to the tokamak data. Quantitative agreement between model and experiment has been found for radial profiles of mean values, fluctuation levels, PDF shapes, timescales and power spectra of both density and turbulent driven flux throughout the main SOL and even partially inside the separatrix. Automatically, this level of agreement also implies that the code output conforms quite closely to the Gamma and Lognormal distributions. Parallel SOL flow data have also been gathered simultaneously with the turbulence measurements. An extensive database of radial Mach flow profiles has been assembled, most notably including a direct comparison of the density dependence of the flow dynamics in carefully matched discharges with forward and reversed toroidal field. These constitute the first measurements of their kind in TCV and reveal the presence of very strong flows, up to Mach numbers of ∼ 0.6. The magnitude and direction of the measured flows is found to be surprisingly well described by neoclassical return parallel flows (Pfirsch-Schlüter) compensating the poloidal ExB and diamagnetic drifts. Combining the forward and reversed field data uncovers a slight, field independent offset thought to originate from the excess transport, driven by the interchange motions, in the outboard midplane vicinity. The flow and fluctuation data have been combined to test the possible link between flow generation and turbulence first demonstrated from similar data on JET. No such correlations have been found on TCV throughout most of the SOL, supporting the finding that the neoclassical component can account for the majority of the measured parallel flow.

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