Magnetic mirror

Magnetic mirror

A magnetic mirror is a magnetic field configuration where the field strength changes when moving along a field line. The mirror effect results in a tendency for charged particles to bounce back from the high field region.

Charged particles with a velocity component perpendicular to the field will gyrate around a field line in a generally circular or helical orbit and thus sample some of the field lines that are converging to create the field gradient. The radial component of these field lines, coupled with the azimuthal motion of the particle, will result in a force parallel to the field and directed toward the region of smaller field strength.

A more mathematical treatment of the mirror effect describes it as a result of the adiabatic invariance of the magnetic moment. For a given mirror ratio (the maximum field strength divided by the minimum field strength), particles with a pitch angle (angle between the particle velocity and the magnetic field) greater than a critical value will be reflected, those with a smaller pitch angle will escape. In particular,

(v_\|/v_\perp)_\mathrm{crit} = \sqrt{B_\mathrm{max}/B_\mathrm{min}-1}

This result may be surprising because one might intuitively expect that heavier and faster particles, or those with less electric charge, would be harder to reflect, or that a smaller magnetic field would reflect particles less efficiently. However, it must be remembered that the gyroradius ρ = mv/qB in those circumstances is also larger, so that the radial component of the magnetic field seen by the particle is also larger. It is true that the minimum volume and magnetic energy is larger for the case of fast particles and weak fields, but the mirror ratio required remains the same.

In the 1960s and 1970s, magnetic mirror confinement was considered a viable technique for producing fusion energy. The concept was eventually largely abandoned because it proved to be impractical to maintain the necessary non-Maxwellian velocity distribution, for several reasons. First, instead of many high energy ions hitting one another, the ion energy spread out into a bell curve. The ions then thermalized, leaving most of the material too cold to fuse. Collisions also scattered the charged particles so much that they could not be contained. Lastly, velocity space instabilities contributed to the escape of the plasma. (For a modern attempt, see the Polywell inertial electrostatic confinement design by Robert Bussard.)

Magnetic mirrors play an important role in other types of magnetic fusion energy devices such as tokamaks, where the toroidal magnetic field is stronger on the inboard side than on the outboard side. The resulting effects are known as neoclassical.

Magnetic mirrors also occur in nature. Electrons and ions in the magnetosphere, for example, will bounce back and forth between the stronger fields at the poles.

Magnetic bottles

A magnetic bottle is the superposition of two magnetic mirrors. For example, two parallel coils separated by a small distance, carrying the same current in the same direction will produce a magnetic bottle between them. Particles near either end of the bottle experience a magnetic force towards the center of the region; particles with appropriate speeds spiral repeatedly from one end of the region to the other and back. Magnetic bottles can be used to temporarily trap charged particles. This technique is used to confine very hot plasmas with temperatures of the order of 106 K. In a similar way, the Earth's non-uniform magnetic field traps charged particles coming from the sun in doughnut shaped regions around the earth called the "Van Allen radiation belts", which were discovered in 1958 using data obtained by instruments aboard the Explorer 1 satellite.

See also

  • Pitch angle (particle motion)

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужен реферат?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • magnetic mirror — noun : a magnetic field that confines a plasma (as in nuclear fusion) by reflecting ions of the plasma back toward the main plasma concentration * * * Physics. a region in a magnetic bottle where the magnetic field increases abruptly, causing… …   Useful english dictionary

  • magnetic mirror — magnetinis veidrodis statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. magnetic mirror vok. magnetischer Spiegel, m rus. магнитное зеркало, n pranc. miroir magnétique, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • Magnetic mirror point — In astrophysics, a magnetic mirror point is a point where the motion of a charged particle trapped in a magnetic field (such as the Earth s) reverses its direction. More precisely, it is the point where the projection of the particle s velocity… …   Wikipedia

  • magnetic mirror — Physics. a region in a magnetic bottle where the magnetic field increases abruptly, causing charged particles that enter it to be reflected. [1890 95] * * * ▪ physics       static magnetic field that, within a localized region, has a shape such… …   Universalium

  • magnetic mirror — /mægˌnɛtɪk ˈmɪrə/ (say mag.netik miruh) noun a configuration of magnetic flux density which reflects charged particles used in a magnetic bottle …  

  • magnetic mirror — noun Date: 1952 a magnetic field that confines a plasma by reflecting ions back toward the main plasma concentration …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • mirror machine — noun A fusion machine using the magnetic mirror principle to trap high energy ions in a plasma • • • Main Entry: ↑mirror …   Useful english dictionary

  • Magnetic confinement fusion — TCV inner view, with graphite clad torus Magnetic confinement fusion is an approach to generating fusion power that uses magnetic fields to confine the hot fusion fuel in the form of a plasma. Magnetic confinement is one of two major branches of… …   Wikipedia

  • Mirror (disambiguation) — For a list of alternative servers which have a copy of Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks. A mirror is an object whose surface reflects an image. Mirror may also refer to: Contents 1 Computing 2 …   Wikipedia

  • Mirror Fusion Test Facility — The Mirror Fusion Test Facility, or MFTF, was an experimental magnetic confinement fusion device built using the magnetic mirror, or so called yin yang design. It was designed and built at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), one of …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”