Rayleigh-Taylor instability in strongly coupled plasma

R Wani and A Mir and F Batool and S Tiwari, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 12, 11557 (2022).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-15725-2

Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) is the prominent energy mixing mechanism when heavy fluid lies on top of light fluid under the gravity. In this work, the RTI is studied in strongly coupled plasmas using two- dimensional molecular dynamics simulations. The motivation is to understand the evolution of the instability with the increasing correlation (Coulomb coupling) that happens when the average Coulombic potential energy becomes comparable to the average thermal energy. We report the suppression of the RTI due to a decrease in growth rate with increasing coupling strength. The caging effect is expected a physical mechanism for the growth suppression observed in both the exponential and the quadratic growth regimes. We also report that the increase in shielding due to background charges increases the growth rate of the instability. Moreover, the increase in the Atwood number, an entity to quantify the density gradient, shows the enhancement of the growth of the instability. The dispersion relation obtained from the molecular dynamics simulation of strongly coupled plasma shows a slight growth enhancement compared to the hydrodynamic viscous fluid. The RTI and its eventual impact on turbulent mixing can be significant in energy dumping mechanisms in inertial confinement fusion where, during the compressed phases, the coupling strength approaches unity.

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