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A tokamak's confinement time is greatly increased by a transport barrier (TB), a region having a high pressure gradient and usually also a strongly sheared plasma flow. The pressure gradient in a TB can be limited by ideal magnetohydrodynamic instabilities with a high toroidal mode number n ("ballooning modes"). Previous studies in the limit n--> infinity showed that arbitrarily small (but nonzero) flow shears have a large stabilizing influence. In contrast, the more realistic finite n ballooning modes studied here are found to be insensitive to sub-Alfvénic flow shears, provided the magnetic shear s approximately 1 (typical for TBs near the plasma's edge). However, for the lower magnetic shears that are associated with internal transport barriers, significantly lower flow shears will influence ballooning mode stability, and flow shear should be retained in the analysis of their stability.

Original publication




Journal article


Phys Rev Lett

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