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Mesh refinement for particle-in-cell plasma simulations: Applications to and benefits for heavy ion fusion

  • J.-L. VAY (a1), P. COLELLA (a1), P. McCORQUODALE (a1), B. VAN STRAALEN (a1), A. FRIEDMAN (a2) and D.P. GROTE (a2)...


The numerical simulation of the driving beams in a heavy ion fusion power plant is a challenging task, and simulation of the power plant as a whole, or even of the driver, is not yet possible. Despite the rapid progress in computer power, past and anticipated, one must consider the use of the most advanced numerical techniques, if we are to reach our goal expeditiously. One of the difficulties of these simulations resides in the disparity of scales, in time and in space, which must be resolved. When these disparities are in distinctive zones of the simulation region, a method which has proven to be effective in other areas (e.g., fluid dynamics simulations) is the mesh refinement technique. We discuss the challenges posed by the implementation of this technique into plasma simulations (due to the presence of particles and electromagnetic waves). We present the prospects for and projected benefits of its application to heavy ion fusion, in particular to the simulation of the ion source and the final beam propagation in the chamber. A collaboration project is under way at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory between the Applied Numerical Algorithms Group (ANAG) and the Heavy Ion Fusion group to couple the adaptive mesh refinement library CHOMBO developed by the ANAG group to the particle-in-cell accelerator code WARP developed by the Heavy Ion Fusion–Virtual National Laboratory. We describe our progress and present our initial findings.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jean-Luc Vay, Mailstop 47-112, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA. E-mail:



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