Computational Plasma Physics
Modelling the interaction of laser or particle beams with fully ionized, hot, dense matter poses a considerable computational challenge owing to the extreme relativistic intensities created by the laser, interposed with highly contrasting material properties in the vicinity of the interaction. Simulations in this domain are indispensable for gaining physical insight into absorption and transport phenomena in high intensity laser interactions, providing theoretical support for a number of important applications currently pursued worldwide, such as the Fast Ignitor Fusion concept, femtosecond X-ray sources, and compact ion accelerators.
At JSC we are employ different methods to model the interaction of laser plasma interactions. One is the use of three-dimensional mesh-free plasma simulation (PEPC) to investigate topical issues in high energy-density plasma physics from a fresh perspective, including collective heating and 'whole-target' transport of fast electrons, the origin and acceleration mechanisms of MeV protons, Gigagauss magnetic field generation and the effects of surface inhomogeneity on high harmonic generation. The fully Lagrangian, collisional kinetic approach offered by this model presents a new paradigm in computational plasma physics. This is complemented by the more conventional and proven technique of Particle-in-Cell (BOPS, JuSPIC, EPOCH, KLAPS) simulations.
Furthermore, the development of fast and scalable algorithms for large-scale particle simulations is an important part of our plasma-physical research.