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Plasma Physics | Theoretical | Wave Growth

Wave Growth as a Critical Phenomenon

The onset of a linear or nonlinear plasma instability has similarities to a phase change in a thermodynamic system: complicated dynamics gives way to dynamics dominated by order (e.g., by a single growing wave mode in the plasma case).

We apply techniques from the theory of critical phenomena to plasma instabilities, calculating quantities such as divergent correlation lengths and times near instability onset, critical exponents, and membership of universality classes. These provide new windows on instability physics, relating it to other branches of physics in ways not widely understood in the plasma community.

Current Research Areas

  1. Landau Damping
  2. Beam instability

Recent Publications:

Drysdale, PM, and Robinson, PA (2002). Mean-field theory of the coherent to random-phase transition in three-wave interactions, Physics of Plasmas, 9, 4896.

Ivanov, A, Cairns, IH, and Robinson, PA (2004). Plasma wave damping as a critical phenomenon, Physics of Plasmas, 11, 4649.

Ivanov, A, Vladimirov, SV, and Robinson, PA (2005). Criticality in a Vlasov-Poisson System - a Fermionic-like Universality Class, Physical Review E, submitted.


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