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      The energy partitioning of non-thermal particles in a plasma: or the Coulomb logarithm revisited

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          Abstract

          The charged particle stopping power in a highly ionized and weakly to moderately coupled plasma has been calculated to leading and next-to-leading order by Brown, Preston, and Singleton (BPS). After reviewing the main ideas behind this calculation, we use a Fokker-Planck equation derived by BPS to compute the electron-ion energy partitioning of a charged particle traversing a plasma. The motivation for this application is ignition for inertial confinement fusion -- more energy delivered to the ions means a better chance of ignition, and conversely. It is therefore important to calculate the fractional energy loss to electrons and ions as accurately as possible, as this could have implications for the Laser Megajoule (LMJ) facility in France and the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in the United States. The traditional method by which one calculates the electron-ion energy splitting of a charged particle traversing a plasma involves integrating the stopping power dE/dx. However, as the charged particle slows down and becomes thermalized into the background plasma, this method of calculating the electron-ion energy splitting breaks down. As a result, the method suffers a systematic error of order T/E0, where T is the plasma temperature and E0 is the initial energy of the charged particle. In the case of DT fusion, for example, this can lead to uncertainties as high as 10% or so. The formalism presented here is designed to account for the thermalization process, and in contrast, it provides results that are near-exact.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          28 May 2008
          Article
          10.1088/0741-3335/50/12/124016
          0805.4402
          53158e07-ce13-40dc-9a35-70e9a6079699

          http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

          History
          Custom metadata
          LA-UR-08-3394
          10 pages, 3 figures, invited talk at the 35th European Physical Society meeting on plasma physics
          physics.plasm-ph

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