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# Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect

1
In view of the importance of plasma confinement
by a magnetic field in controlled thermonuclear
research, as well as in other applications, it is
useful to study the plasma confinement produced
by self generated azimuthal magnetic field due to
an axial current in the plasma by an
appropriately applied electric field
Fundamentals of Plasma Physics by J. A.
Bittencourt Chapter 13
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
2
Consider an infinite cylindrical column of
conducting fluid with an axial current
density and a resulting
azimuthal magnetic induction
( ) ,
.
= z r J J
z
( )
.
= u
u
r B B
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
3
The J x B force, acting on the plasma,
forces the column to constrict laterally.
The lateral constriction of the plasma
column is known as the pinch effect.
The isobaric surfaces, for which
p=constant, are, in this case, concentric
cylinders.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
4
As the plasma is compressed laterally, the
plasma number density and the temperature
increase. The plasma kinetic pressure
counteracts to hinder the constriction of the
plasma column, whereas the magnetic force acts
to confine the plasma.
When these counteracting forces are balanced, a
steady state condition results in which the
material is mainly confined within a certain
radius R, which remains constant in time.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
5
The situation is commonly referred to as
the equilibrium pinch.
When the selfmagnetic pressure exceeds
the plasma kinetic pressure, the column
radius changes with time, resulting in a
situation known as the dynamic pinch.
For simplicity, the current density, the
magnetic field and the plasma kinetic
pressure may be assumed to depend on
the distance form the cylinder axis.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
6
The equilibrium pinch
For steady state conditions, none of the
variables change with time.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
7
Since the system is cylindrically symmetric,
only the radial component of the equation
must be considered.

Inside a cylinder of general radius r, the
total enclosed current I
z
(r) is:

( )
( ) r B r J
dr
r dp
z u
) ( =
( ) ( ) r d r r J r I
r
z z
}
=
0
2t
(2)
(1)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
8
Form which we obtain

Amperes law in integral form relates
B
u
(r) to the total enclosed current, giving
for the magnetic induction:

( )
( )
( )
( )
dr
r dI
r r J
r rJ
dr
r dI
z
z
z
z
t
t
2 / 1
2
=
=
( ) ( ) ( )
}
= =
r
z z
dr r r J
r
r I
r
r B
0
0 0
2

u
(3)
(4)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
9
If the conducting fluid lies almost entirely
inside r = R, then the magnetic induction
B
u
(r) = (r>R)
where:

Which is the total current flowing inside the
plasma column.

r
I
t

2
0 0
(5)
( ) ( )
}
= =
R
z z
R I dr r r J I
0
0
2t
(6)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
10
The substitution of B
u
(r) and J
z
(r) from (4)
and (3) into equation (1), we obtain:

Which can be written as

( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
dr
r dI
r I
r
dr
r dI
r
r I
r dr
r dp
z
z
z
z
2 2
0
0
4
2
1
2
t

t t

=
(

=
(7)
(8)
Now
( )
( )
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
2
0
2
0
2 2
2
) (
2
) (
2
2
4
I r I dr r I
dr
d
r I
dr
d
dr
r dp
r
R
z
R
z
z

t
= =
(

=
}
By Integrating
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
11
We may integrate equation (8) from r=0 to r
= R, and simplify the LHS by integration by
parts, we obtain:

Where I
0
= I
z
(R) is the total current flowing
through the entire cross section of the
plasma column and, obviously, I
z
(0) = 0.
( ) ( )
2
0
0
0
0
2 2
2
2 4 4 I dr r p r r p r
R
R

t t t =
|
.
|

\
|
}
(9)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
12
Considering the plasma column to be
confined in the region 0 s r < R, it follows
that:
p(r) = 0 for r > R, and
= finite for 0 s r < R
The first term in equation (9)
vanishes. Therefore,we are left with
( )dr r p r I
R
}
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
0
0
2
0
2
8
t

t
( )
|
.
|

\
|
R
r p r
0
2
4t
(10)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
13
If the partial pressures of the electrons
and the ions are governed by the ideal gas
law,
p
e
(r) = n (r) k T
e

p
i
(r) = n (r) k T
i

and assuming that the electron and ion
temperatures, T
e
and T
i
, respectively are
constants throughout the column, we
have:
p (r) = p
e
(r) + p
i
(r) = n (r) k (T
e
+ T
i
) (13)
(12)
(11)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
14
Therefore, equation (10) becomes

( ) ( )
( )
( )dr r n r N
N T T k I
dr r n r T T k I
R
l
l i e
R
i e
}
}
=
+
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
+
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
0
0
2
0
0
0
2
0
2
8
2
8
t

t
t

t
or
where
(16)
(15)
(14)
is the number of particles per unit length
of the plasma column.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
15
Equation (15) is known as the Bennett
relation. It gives the total current that
must be discharged through the plasma
column in order to confine a plasma at a
specified temperature and a given
number of particles (N
l
) per unit length.
The current required for the confinement
of hot plasma is usually very large. As an
example, suppose that N
l
= 10
19
m
-1
, and
that the plasma temperature is such that
T
e
+ T
i
= 10
8
K.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
16
Since
0
= 4t x 10
-7
H/m, k= 1.38 x 10
-23
J/K, it
follows that required current I
o
is of the order
of one million amperes.
To obtain the radial distributing of p(r) in
terms of B
u
(r), it is convenient to start from
equation (1)

and proceed in a different way.

( )
( ) ( ) r B r J
dr
r dp
z u
=
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
17
We note that the Maxwell equation:
V x B =
0
J
In cylindrical coordinates (only with radial
dependence) is:

It gives:

( ) | | ( ) r J r rB
dr
d
r
z 0
1

u
=
( )
( ) ( )
r
r B
dr
r dB
r J
z
u u

0 0
1 1
+ =
(17)
(18)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
18
Substitution of this result into equation
(1) yields

( ) ( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
(

+ =
(

+ =
r
r B
r B
dr
d
B
r B
r
r B
dr
r dB
dr
r dp
u
u u
u
u u

2
0
0
1
1
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
19

( )
( ) | |
( ) | |
( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
dr
r dB
r B
r
r B
dr
r dB
r B
r
r
r B
r
r
r B r
dr
d
r
r B r
dr
d
r dr
r dp
u
u
u
u
u u
u
u

+ =
+ =
=
2
2
2
2
2
2 2
2
2 2
2
0
2 .
2 2
2
2
1
2
1

(19)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
20
We now integrate this equation from r = 0 to a

In particular, since for r = R, we have p(r) = 0,
therefore:

( ) ( ) | |
}
=
R
dr r B r
dr
d
r
p
0
2 2
2
0
1
2
1
0
u

( ) ( ) ( ) | |
}
=
r
dr r B r
dr
d
r
p r p
0
2 2
2
0
1
2
1
0
u

(21)
(20)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
21
Substituting this result into equation (20)

The average pressure inside the cylinder
can be related to the total current I
o
and
the column radius R without knowing the
( ) ( ) | |
}
=
R
r
dr r B r
dr
d
r
r p
2 2
2
0
1
2
1
u

(22)
( ) ( ) | | ( ) | |
} }
=
r R
dr r B r
dr
d
r
dr r B r
dr
d
r
r p
0
2 2
2
0
0
2 2
2
0
1
2
1 1
2
1
u

u
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
22
The average value of the kinetic pressure
inside the column is defined by:

Simplifying this expression by an
integration by parts, yields:

because p(R) = 0
( )dr r p r
R
p
R
}
=
0
2
2
1
t
t
( ) ( )dr r p
dr
d
R
r
R
r
r p p
R
R
}
=
0
2
2
0
2
2
.
(24)
(23)
0
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
23
Replacing using equation (19), we
get

( )
dr
r dp
( ) | |
( )
2 2
2
0 0
0
2
0 0
0
2
0
2 2
2
0
2
2
8
2
1
2 2
2
1
R
I
R
I R B
dr r B r
dr
d
r R
r
p
R
t

u
u
=
|
.
|

\
|
= =
=
}
( )
( )
( )
R
I
R B
r
r I
r B
z
t

u
u
2
2
;
0 0
0
=
=
(25)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
24
This result shows that the average kinetic
pressure in the equilibrium plasma
column is balanced by the magnetic
pressure at the boundary.
From equations

( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
}
}
= =
=
r
z
z
r
z z
dr r r J
r r
r I
r B
dr r r J r I
0
0 0
0
2
2

t
u
(4)
(2)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
25
and

We can deduce the radial distribution of
I
z
(r), B
u
(r) and p(r), if we know the radial
dependence of J
z
(r).
We will consider two simple possibilities,
in order to illustrate the use of the above
mentioned equations.
( ) ( ) | |
}
=
R
r
dr r B r
dr
d
r
r p ,
1
2
1
2 2
2
0
u

(22)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
26
As simple example, consider the case in
which the current density J
z
(r) is constant for
r < R.
Taking in equation (4), we obtain for
r < R,

2
0
R
I
J
z
t
=
( ) ( ) R r r
R
I
rdr
r R
I
r B
r
< = =
} 2
0 0
0
2
0 0
2t

u
(26)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
27
Substituting this result into equation (22),
we obtain a parabolic dependence for the

( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
=
= =
(

=
} }
}
2
2
2 2
2
0 0
2
4 2
2
0 0
4 2
2
0 0
2
3
4 2
2
0 0
4 2
4 2
0
2
0
2
0
1
4
2 2
2
4
8
4
1
2
1
R
r
R
I
r
R
I
dr r
R
I
dr
r
r
R
I
dr
R
r I
dr
d
r
r p
R
r
R
r
R
r
R
r
t

## Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect

28
Note that, in this case, the pressure p(0) is
twice the average pressure given in
equation (25). The radial dependence of
various quantities is:

p
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
29
z
(r) which
is also of interest in the investigation of
the dynamic pinch is the one in which the
current density is confined to a very thin
layer on the surface of the column.
This model is appropriate for a highly
conducting fluid. In a perfectly
conducting plasma, the current cannot
penetrate the plasma and exists only on
the column surface.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
30
This surface current density can be
conveniently represented by a delta
function at r = R. In this case there is no
magnetic field inside the plasma and
B
u
(r) exists only for r > R. The magnetic
induction is given by

where I
0
is the total axial current.
( ) ( ) R r
r
I
r B > =
t

u
2
0 0
(28)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
31
Therefore, from equation (20), we have
p(r) = p(0) (r < R)
So the plasma kinetic pressure is constant
inside the cylindrical column, and equal
to the average value given in equation
(25).
The radial dependence of the various
quantities for this model is given below.
Thus, for a perfectly conducting plasma
column, the magnetic induction vanishes
inside the column, and falls off as 1/r
outside the column.
(29)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
32
The pinch effect, in this special case, can
be thought of as due to an abrupt build
up of the magnetic pressure (B
2
u
/ 2
0
) in
the region external to the column.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
33
The simple theory of the equilibrium
pinch, is valid when the plasma column
radius is constant in time or when it is
varying very slowly compared with the
time required for the plasma to attain a
constant temperature.
In actual practice, however, static or
quasistatic solutions do not arise and it
is necessary to consider the dynamical
behavior of the pinch effect.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
34
Initially, when the current starts flowing
down the plasma column, the kinetic
pressure is generally too small to resist
the force due to the external magnetic
pressure, so that the radius of the plasma
cylinder is forced inwards and the
plasma column is pinched.
The essential dynamic features of the
timevarying pinch are illustrated by the
following simple model:
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
35
Suppose that a fully ionized plasma fills
the interior region (o < r < R
o
) of a
hollow dielectric cylinder of radius R
0

and length L.
A voltage difference V is applied between
the ends of the cylinder, so that a current
I flows in the plasma. This current
produces an azimuthal magnetic
induction B
u
(r) which causes the plasma
to pinch inwards.
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
36
The plasma is assumed to be perfectly
conducting, so that all the current flows
on the surface and there is no magnetic
flux inside the plasma. Also, the plasma
kinetic pressure is neglected.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
37
Let R(t) be the plasma column radius at
time t, the magnitude of the azimuthal
magnetic induction just adjacent to the
current sheath at radius R(t) is given by:

where I(t) is the total axial current at the
instant t.
( )
R
t I
R B
t

u
2
) (
0
=
(1)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
38
In particular, for t = 0, we have R = R
0
,
and this equation gives the initial value
B
u
(R
0
) of the magnetic induction.
The magnetic pressure p
m
(R) produced
by this magnetic induction, acting on the
current sheath radially inwards, is given
by:

( )
( )
( )
2 2
2
0
0
2
8 2 R
t I
R B
R p
m
t

u
= =
(2)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
39
The force per unit length of the current
obtained from equation (2) as

To set up the equation of motion, relating
I(t) to the instantaneous radius R(t) of the
pinch discharge, we must make some
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
R
t I
r r R p R R F r R F
m
t

t
4
2
2
0
. . .
= = =
(3)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
40
We shall consider the so called snowplow
model, in which the current sheath is
imagined to carry along with it all the
material which it hits as it moves inward.
If
m
is the original mass density of the
plasma, then the mass per unit length
carried by the interface as it move in, at
time t, when the radius of the current
sheath is R, is given by:
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
41
M(R) = t(R
2
0
R
2
)
m

(4)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
42
From Newtons second law, the magnetic
force and the rate of change of
momentum are related by

Using equation (3) and (4), we get
( ) ( ) R F
dt
dR
R M
dt
d
=
(

( )
( )
R
t I
dt
dR
R R
dt
d
m
t

t
4
2
0 2 2
0
=
(

(5)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
43
If the functional dependence of the pinch
current I(t) is known, equation (5)
permits the evaluation of the pinch
discharge radius as a function of time.
It is instructive to consider a particular
case in which the pinch current varies in
time according to (capacitor bank
discharge during first quarter period):
I(t) = I
0
sin (et) I
0
e t (6)
Using the equation (6) in equation (5),

~
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
44

( )
( )
x d
dx
x
d
d
x R
I
t
d
dx
x
d
d
R R
t I
dt
dx
x
dt
d
R
t I
dt
dR
R R
dt
d
m
m
m
2
2
2
4
0
2
2 2
0 0
4 2
3
0
4 2
2 2 2
0 0
2
2
0
2 2
0
) 1 (
]
4
[ ) 1 (
4
) 1 (
,
4
t
t t
t
t
e
t t
t
e
t

t
=
(

=
(

=
(

=
(

(7)
we obtain
Where and ,
0
R
R
x =
t
R
I
m
4 / 1
4
0
2
2 2
0 0
4
(

=
t
e
t
(8)
Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
45
Equation (7) has to be solved numerically
to determine x(t).

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
46
This simplified model indicates that the
plasma column radius goes to zero in a
time slightly greater than t. This is a
consequence of neglecting the kinetic
pressure of the plasma.
The above discussion is therefore valid
only for very short periods after the onset
of the current flow.
An important phenomenon that usually
occurs in the dynamic pinch has not been
considered in this analysis.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
47
As the current sheath moves radially
inwards, compressing the plasma, the
behavior just discussed is modified.
A radial shock wave motion is usually set
up by the pinch and this shock wave
travels faster than the current sheath.
The shock wave, traveling inwards, gets
reflected off the axis and move outwards
striking the interface and retarding the
inward motion of the current sheath or
even reversing it.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
48
This phenomenon is known as bouncing.
This sequence of events takes place
periodically and the amplitude of each
succeeding bounce becomes smaller.
reaches an equilibrium state at some
0
.

Experimental Plasma Physics, Pinch effect
49

Normalized radius of the plasma column
as a function of the normalized time,
illustrating the phenomenon of bouncing.