Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Tobin Munsat

Second Advisor

Scott Parker

Third Advisor

Dmitri Uzdensky

Fourth Advisor

Mihaly Horanyi

Fifth Advisor

Mark Rast


In order to be viable, Next-step fusion devices must overcome two pressing problems: they must be able to achieve high levels of confinement while also handling potentially damaging heat loads on material surfaces. The study of plasma edge physics promises solutions to both problems because the plasma edge, being the boundary between confined and unconfined regions, plays a key role in determining the global confinement and the plasma interaction with material surfaces (e.g. edge transport barriers, pedestal evolution, and edge localized modes). However, the steep gradients in density and temperature in the plasma edge that drive strong fluctuations in plasma parameters require measurements of fluctuations with high spatial and temporal resolution. By measuring drift scale (kyρs < 2) fluctuations for frequencies less than ∼ 200 kHz, Gas Puff Imaging (GPI) meets these requirements while providing two-dimensional coverage at a large number of measurement locations. This dissertation presents GPI studies of transitions from low to high confinement regimes (L-H transitions) and Edge Localized Modes (ELMs). In 2010, a study of L-H transitions with the GPI diagnostic revealed quasi-periodic reductions in the scrape-off-layer turbulence levels during the 30 ms preceding the transition. The two-dimensional flow fields for these "quiet-periods", estimated from the GPI data by a pattern-matching velocimetry technique, exhibit intriguing similarity with the Drift Wave - Zonal Flow paradigm, a leading candidate in explaining L-H transitions. Following this study, a survey of GPI data from RF heated H-mode plasmas near the L-H power threshold identified short-lived, coherent oscillations in edge emission preceding the ELM crash. These observations provide detailed two-dimensional dynamics of the growth, filamentation, and crash of the ELM event, which could improve our understanding through comparison with nonlinear simulation. Cross diagnostic comparisons of GPI and Beam Emission Spectroscopy measurements of edge fluctuations are also presented.