Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

Physics of Plasmas



Publication Date



Energy dynamics calculations in a 3D fluid simulation of drift wave turbulence in the linear Large Plasma Device [W. Gekelman et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 62, 2875 (1991)] illuminate processes that drive and dissipate the turbulence. These calculations reveal that a nonlinear instability dominates the injection of energy into the turbulence by overtaking the linear drift wave instability that dominates when fluctuations about the equilibrium are small. The nonlinear instability drives flute- like (kk 1⁄4 0) density fluctuations using free energy from the background density gradient. Through nonlinear axial wavenumber transfer to kk 61⁄4 0 fluctuations, the nonlinear instability accesses the adiabatic response, which provides the requisite energy transfer channel from density to potential fluctuations as well as the phase shift that causes instability. The turbulence characteristics in the simulations agree remarkably well with experiment. When the nonlinear instability is artificially removed from the system through suppressing kk 1⁄4 0 modes, the turbulence develops a coherent frequency spectrum which is inconsistent with experimental data. This indicates the importance of the nonlinear instability in producing experimentally consistent turbulence.


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