Electron internal transport barrier formation and dynamics in the plasma core of the TJ-II stellarator
The influence of magnetic topology on the formation of electron internal transport barriers (e-ITBs) has been studied experimentally in electron cyclotron heated plasmas in the stellarator TJ-II. e-ITB formation is characterized by an increase in core electron temperature and plasma potential. The positive radial electric field increases by a factor of 3 in the central plasma region when an e-ITB forms. The experiments reported demonstrate that the formation of an e-ITB depends on the magnetic configuration. Calculations of the modification of the rotational transform due to plasma current lead to the interpretation that the formation of an e-ITB can be triggered by positioning a low order rational surface close to the plasma core region. In configurations without any central low order rational, no barrier is formed for any accessible value of heating power. Different mechanisms associated with neoclassical/turbulent bifurcations and kinetic effects are put forward to explain the impact of magnetic topology on radial electric fields and confinement.