Cross-field electron diffusion due to the coupling of drift-driven microinstabilities

K. Hara and S. Tsikata
Phys. Rev. E 102, 023202 (2020)

In this paper, the nonlinear interaction between kinetic instabilities driven by multiple ion beams and magnetized electrons is investigated. Electron diffusion across magnetic field lines is enhanced by the coupling of plasma instabilities. A two-dimensional collisionless particle-in-cell simulation is performed accounting for singly and doubly charged ions in a cross-field configuration. Consistent with prior linear kinetic theory analysis and observations from coherent Thomson scattering experiments, the present simulations identify an ion-ion two-stream instability due to multiply charged ions (flowing in the direction parallel to the applied electric field) which coexists with the electron cyclotron drift instability (propagating perpendicular to the applied electric field and parallel to the E × B drift). Small-scale fluctuations due to the coupling of these naturally driven kinetic modes are found to be a mechanism that can enhance cross-field electron transport and contribute to the broadening of the ion velocity distribution functions.