Magnetic mirror concept -- electrons vs ions

In summary, charged particles in a magnetic field will gyrate along field lines and form helical paths if they have a parallel velocity. The gyroradius is proportional to the B field strength and particle mass, so a higher field strength or lower mass results in a smaller radius. In the case of an electron and a proton traveling at the same parallel velocity from a weaker B field to a stronger one, the proton will have a larger gyroradius. This means that it may be easier to confine protons or ions in a magnetic mirror compared to electrons. However, assuming the particles have the same energy, it is unlikely for the proton to have 2000 times more energy than the electron.
  • #1
artis
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I am reading a book on fusion and just went over a paragraph of magnetic mirror confinement.

What I want to understand is this.
So all charged particles gyrate around magnetic field lines and if they have also a velocity parallel to the field they form helical paths. The gyroradius is directly proportional to B field strength and particle mass. So a higher field strength would result in smaller radius and lower mass would also result in smaller radius.

Now say we have an electron and a proton traveling at the same parallel velocity from a weaker B field towards a stronger one. The proton has a larger gyroradius while the electron has a smaller one. As the particles "climb up" the stronger B field their parallel velocities decrease and to compensate their perpendicular velocity increases (they start gyrating faster, spinning faster)
All in all the gyroradius of the electron will always be smaller in this case than that of the proton so does this mean that it is easier to confine protons/ions than electrons in a magnetic mirror? thanks.
 
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  • #2
artis said:
Now say we have an electron and a proton traveling at the same parallel velocity from a weaker B field towards a stronger one.
That would need the proton to have 2000 times as much energy. That's unlikely in a plasma. Better to assume the same energy for both.
 

Related to Magnetic mirror concept -- electrons vs ions

What is the magnetic mirror concept?

The magnetic mirror concept is a principle in plasma physics that describes the behavior of charged particles, such as electrons and ions, in a magnetic field. It states that particles with specific energies can be confined within a magnetic field, creating a "mirror" effect where they are reflected back and forth between two regions of high and low magnetic field strength.

How do electrons and ions behave differently in a magnetic mirror?

Electrons and ions behave differently in a magnetic mirror due to their differing masses and charges. Electrons, being much lighter and negatively charged, are more easily affected by the magnetic field and can be confined within the mirror for longer periods of time. Ions, on the other hand, are heavier and positively charged, making them less affected by the magnetic field and less likely to be confined within the mirror.

What are the applications of the magnetic mirror concept?

The magnetic mirror concept has various applications in plasma physics and fusion research. It is used in devices such as magnetic mirrors and magnetic confinement fusion reactors to contain and control plasma, which is essential for achieving fusion reactions. It is also used in particle accelerators and space propulsion systems.

What are the limitations of the magnetic mirror concept?

One limitation of the magnetic mirror concept is that it only works for particles with specific energies. This means that particles with energies outside of the required range will not be confined within the magnetic mirror and may escape. Additionally, the magnetic mirror can only confine particles for a limited amount of time, as they can eventually lose energy and escape the magnetic field.

How is the magnetic mirror concept being studied and improved?

The magnetic mirror concept is an active area of research, and scientists are constantly studying ways to improve its effectiveness. This includes developing better magnetic field configurations, using different types of magnetic materials, and exploring alternative confinement methods such as magnetic mirrors combined with other confinement techniques. Additionally, computer simulations and experimental studies are being conducted to better understand the behavior of particles in a magnetic mirror and find ways to optimize its performance.

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