Simulation of dense plasmas in the radiofrequency range are typically performed in the frequency domain, i.e., by solving Laplace-transformed Maxwell’s equations. This technique is well-suited for the study of linear heating and quasilinear evolution, but does not generalize well to the study of nonlinear phenomena. Conversely, time-domain simulation in this range is difficult because the time scale is long compared to the electron plasma wave period, and in addition, the various cutoff and resonance behaviors within the plasma insure that any explicit finite-difference scheme would be numerically unstable. To resolve this dilemma, explicit finite-difference Maxwell terms are maintained, but a carefully time-centered locally implicit method is introduced to treat the plasma current, such that all linear plasma dispersion behavior is faithfully reproduced at the available temporal and spatial resolution, despite the fact that the simulation time step may exceed the electron gyro and electron plasma time scales by orders of magnitude. Demonstrations are presented of the method for several classical benchmarks, including mode conversion to ion cyclotron wave, cyclotron resonance, propagation into a plasma-wave cutoff, and tunneling through low-density edge plasma.

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