Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2003 Abram Falk. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Physics & Astronomy Department


The Field Reversed Configuration (FRC) is a novel high β magnetic confinement scheme, which has not been as extensively investigated compared to other schemes like the tokomak. The Swarthmore Spheromak Experiment (SSX) forms hybrid spheromak/FRCs using the merging spheromak technique. A soft x-ray detector and a Mach probe are valuable diagnostics, especially for measuring the various forms of energy that are released when the two spheromaks merge in a magnetic reconnect ion process. By comparing the soft x-ray detector data to simulated emission spectra, electron temperature can be inferred. This analysis yields Te = 30 ± 10 eV for SSX, where the large uncertainty reflects the uncertainty in the impurity content of SSX. There is found to be more heating, apparently due to more reconnection, when the merging spheromaks are of counter-helicity rather than when they are co-helicity. The Mach probe has measured azimuthal ion velocity, which is probably caused by the J x B force.