Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Chair

Earl Scime

Committee Co-Chair

Paul Cassak

Committee Member

Edgar Fuller

Committee Member

Julian Schulze

Committee Member

H Arthur Weldon


Damping of Alfven waves is one of the most likely mechanisms for ion heating in the solar corona. Density gradients have significant but poorly-understood effects on energy transfer and Alfven wave propagation in partially ionized plasmas, such as those found in the solar chromosphere. Reflection of Alfven waves at density and magnetic field gradients can give rise to turbulence which sustains particle heating. The density profile in the Hot hELIcon eXperiment (HELIX) varies strongly with radius, giving access to a wide range of Alfven dynamics across the plasma column and providing an ideal environment to observe Alfven wave-driven particle heating.;A new internal wave-launching antenna, situated at the edge of the high-density core and the density-gradient region of HELIX has been used to excite low-frequency waves in argon plasma. The propagation behavior of the launched waves was measured with a small-scale (smaller than the ion gyroradius) magnetic sense coil at multiple radial locations across the plasma column (from the high-density core through the density gradient region). Time-resolved laser induced fluorescence (LIF) and Langmuir probe measurements also yield insight into the plasma response to the perturbation.;This dissertation presents cross-spectral and wavelet analysis of low-frequency waves in a helicon plasma with a strong density gradient. Building on the work of Houshmandyar, shear Alfven waves were launched in a helicon plasma source with a strong density gradient. Alfven wave turbulence is suggested from phase angle and wavelet analysis of magnetic sense coil probe measurements. The perturbation wavelength derived from phase angle measurements is consistent with predictions from the full Alfven wave dispersion relation (taking electron Landua damping, electron-ion collisions, and finite frequency effects into account). Time-resolved LIF measurements across the plasma column suggest ion heating where the turbulence is strongest. Time-resolved Langmuir probe measurements show electron heating in response to the launched Alfven waves.