Sustained stabilization of the n=1 kink mode by plasma rotation at beta approaching twice the stability limit calculated without a wall has been achieved in DIII-D by a combination of error field reduction and sufficient rotation drive. Previous experiments have transiently exceeded the no-wall beta limit. However, demonstration of sustained rotational stabilization has remained elusive because the rotation has been found to decay whenever the plasma is wall stabilized. Recent theory [Boozer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 5059 (2001)] predicts a resonant response to error fields in a plasma approaching marginal stability to a low-n kink mode. Enhancement of magnetic nonaxisymmetry in the plasma leads to strong damping of the toroidal rotation, precisely in the high-beta regime where it is needed for stabilization. This resonant response, or "error field amplification" is demonstrated in DIII-D experiments: applied n=1 radial fields cause enhanced plasma response and strong rotation damping at beta above the no wall limit but have little effect at lower beta. The discovery of an error field amplification has led to sustained operation above the no-wall limit through improved magnetic field symmetrization using an external coil set. The required symmetrization is determined both by optimizing the external currents with respect to the plasma rotation and by use of feedback to detect and minimize the plasma response to nonaxisymmetric fields as beta increases. Ideal stability analysis and rotation braking experiments at different beta values show that beta is maintained 50% higher than the no wall stability limit for durations greater than 1 s, and approaches beta twice the no-wall limit in several cases, with steady-state rotation levels. The results suggest that improved magnetic-field symmetry could allow plasmas to be maintained well above no-wall beta limit for as long as sufficient torque is provided.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics