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The Mercier Criterion in Reversed Shear Tokamak Plasmas

Authors: M.S. Chance, C. Kessel, and S.C. Jardin

Date: June 16, 1999

A recent numerical study has found that, contrary to conventional theoretical and experimental expectations, reversed shear plasmas are unstable primarily because the term proportional to the shear in the Mercier criterion is destabilizing. In the present study, the role of the magnetic shear, both local and global, is examined for various tokamak configurations with monotonic and non-monotonic safety factor profiles. The enhancement of the local shear due to the outward shift of the magnetic axis suggests that the latter are less susceptible to interchanges. Furthermore, by regrouping the terms in the criterion, the V" term when differentiated instead with respect to the toroidal flux, is shown to absorb the dominant shear term. No Mercier instability is found for similar profiles as in the previous study.