An Exact Calculation of Coulomb Energy Exchange in a Hot Plasma

Robert Singleton, Los Alamos National Laboratory

I will start with a pedagogical overview of Coulomb energy exchange processes in a weakly coupled plasma, with an emphasis on convergent kinetic equations. I will first show why existing techniques in the literature (such as those of Kihara and Anono) are not sufficiently powerful to solve the problems they purport to solve. I will then adapt methods first developed in quantum field theory to the energy exchange processes in a plasma, and it will turn out that these methods are indeed powerful enough to calculate the energy exchange rate exactly to leading and next-to-leading order in the plasma coupling constant. In a weakly coupled hot plasma, this is an excellent approximation, and the calculations are near-exact. With this approach, and there is no need to introduce the so-called Coulomb logarithm. These exact calculations differ from models in the Plasma Literature, and this difference could have implications for the National Ignition Faculty (NIF). This talk will primarily be geared for non-experts in both plasma physics and field theory, and I will make connections with several analogous problems in particle physics, particularly the Lamb shift.