Vortex Dynamics and Shear-Layer Instability in High-Intensity Cyclotrons

Antoine J. Cerfon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show that the space-charge dynamics of high-intensity beams in the plane perpendicular to the magnetic field in cyclotrons is described by the two-dimensional Euler equations for an incompressible fluid. This analogy with fluid dynamics gives a unified and intuitive framework to explain the beam spiraling and beam breakup behavior observed in experiments and in simulations. Specifically, we demonstrate that beam breakup is the result of a classical instability occurring in fluids subject to a sheared flow. We give scaling laws for the instability and predict the nonlinear evolution of beams subject to it. Our work suggests that cyclotrons may be uniquely suited for the experimental study of shear layers and vortex distributions that are not achievable in Penning-Malmberg traps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174801
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 28 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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