Plasma Physics HEC Consortia

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Plasma physics is the study of the properties of fully ionised gases or dense matter that exhibits similar collective behaviour. The processes, which need to be investigated, therefore cover kinetic theory of matter far from its equilibrium state, fluid dynamics of magnetised and conductive plasmas and the interaction of these processes across a huge range of time and length scales, often in complex geometries. Such problems are rarely tractable analytically and thus much of plasma physics resorts to High End Computing (HEC) to perform massive simulations.

This planned HEC Consortium will cover all aspects of computational plasma physics. This includes modelling for magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) devices to optimize reactor performance, simulations to optimize laser-particle accelerator sources, novel approaches to high-intensity laser plasma experiments and laser-driven fusion. In all these areas High End Computing (HEC) resources are needed for simulations which are essential to either guiding experiments and research programmes (including a reliable predictive capability for the performance of future plasma facilities) or interpreting the complex diagnostic sets from coupled multi-scale, non-linear and often relativistic processes.

To help maintain the UK's leading role in fusion reactor design and basic plasma physics the HEC Consortium requires a block allocation of UK National level computing resource. This will ease the access to such facilities and allow the UK to collectively plan computational programmes, which will require many years to complete, in the certainty that the computing resources will be available. Over the five-year duration of this HEC Consortium grant HEC architectures are likely to change and optimising codes for current and future machines is therefore essential. In addition new physics packages must be developed and implemented to keep the UK at the cutting edge of this research. The Consortium therefore also requires funding for software development to exploit the computing resources and keep codes world-leading.

The proposed HEC Consortium will therefore conduct simulations in support of the UK fusion programme; software development for novel physical processes and maintain the scientific impact of plasma and laser physics.

Planned Impact

The proposed software development will extend the algorithms used in plasma physics codes and improve their efficiency through the introduction of mixed mode parallelism. This will be important to maintain the UK's role in fusion research and laser plasma physics. This will impact the development of international fusion experiments (ITER and NIF) as well as designs for demonstration reactors (DEMO and LIFE). In particle accelerator research the possibility exists for proton sources for radiotherapy and the QED-plasma coupling offer the opportunity for compact gamma-ray sources for nuclear physics research.

A direct UK beneficiary of this work will be AWE. The new approach to radiation hydrodynamic ALE code detailed in this project will have direct impact on AWE's own code development plans. In particular the application of performance modelling will ensure that the code continues to be developed with the latest national (and international) supercomputers as target systems. This will help AWE in restricting the choices they need to make when updating their own code and HPC systems. This will itself assist AWE in its role in ensuring national nuclear security.

In the longer term this project feeds into the international plans to develop fusion energy systems this century. If successful these reactors have the potential to change the world energy market, freeing us from the constraints of fossil fuel supply and directly addressing the problems of electricity supply without carbon dioxide emission. For the UK this could also guarantee a security of energy supply independent of regions that currently control the fossil fuel market.

The Consortium will also increase the skill base of UK computational plasma physics. This will establish a direct link between UK University research and the Hartree Centre. The trained software developer, named PDRA Bennett, will be ideally qualified to continue work in either University or at the Hartree Centre ensuring longevity to the code investment. It is also inevitable that a cohort of PhD students will be trained through the collaborating Universities in a culture of state-of-the-art software development and HEC. Many of these PhD students will take this experience into high tech. UK industry.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The grant funded collaborative work between all the UK's high temperature plasma physics groups. The primary research areas are laser plasma physics and fusion. In magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) research this has lead to improvements in our understand of the energy transport in a fusion reactor which could affect performance. How this hot plasma interacts with the reactor walls has also been extended to include the important processes in so-called diverter physics. Further computational studies on include detailed assessments of the stability of fusion reactors to edge localised modes (ELMs) and neoclassical tearing modes (NTMs) in a tokamak could, if allowed to grow, not only degrade plasma confinement but also trigger disruptions.

In laser driven fusion the roll of asymmetry in full 3D simulations has shown how critical control of initial symmetry is to achieving ignition of the field pellet. Alternative schemes for laser-driven fusion using fast electrons have also opened new avenues or research in fast-ignition schemes.

The next generation of particle accelerators may be based on laser-plasma interactions and significant progress has been made in assessing the viability of such schemes for medical imaging and hadron therapy.
Exploitation Route Plasma-HEC's research feeds into national and international programmes on fusion energy, laser-accelerators and light sources, all of which have clear industrial applications. In the longer term the HEC project feeds into the international plans to develop fusion energy systems this century. If successful these reactors have the potential to change the world energy market, freeing us from the constraints of fossil fuel supply and directly addressing the problems of electricity production without carbon dioxide emission. For the UK, this could also guarantee a secure source of energy independent of regions that currently control the fossil fuel market. The research enabled by this HEC will automatically feed into such world-wide efforts through published work, conferences, international collaborations and direct involvement in fusion programmes. The UK plays a central role in the context of EUROfusion (which coordinates European fusion research ), collaborates with a UK industrial partner (Scitech Precision), the US and Japanese fusion programmes, and already has strong links with ITER, NIF, LMJ, and Omega. The computational work of the HEC helps maximise the UK's impact on these important and fruitful international collaborations, and it will contribute significantly to securing their value over the longer term. A major driver of the development of laser-driven accelerators is contributing to a reduction in deaths due to cancer through better diagnosis and treatment. Besides offering a reduction in the cost and footprint of particle therapy centres, leading to more widespread availability of particle therapy, a laser-driven approach to particle therapy and radiotherapy offers a number of clinical advantages that will form the basis of new IP emerging from the project. Laser-driven technology can also transform the production of medical radioisotopes impacting on both the production of radiopharmaceuticals for medical imaging and radionuclide therapeutics for cancer treatment.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description CCP Flagship Project
Amount £380,448 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M011534/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 03/2018
 
Description Centre for Computational Plasma Physics
Amount £264,129 (GBP)
Organisation Atomic Weapons Establishment 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2022
 
Description Extension and optimisation of the EPOCH code
Amount £236,478 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P02212X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 05/2019
 
Description Plasma Physics HEC Consortia
Amount £279,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L000237/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2013 
End 05/2018
 
Description The Plasma-CCP Network
Amount £125,995 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M022463/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 06/2020
 
Title New Field Solver for GS2 
Description A new field solver has been developed for the gyrokinetic code GS2, which uses a more efficient domain decomposition. This more efficient algorithm reduces the need for communications and accelerates the initialisation and advance steps over previous versions of the code. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact IDC HPC Innovation Excellence Award, Announced at ISC 2014 in Leipzig. https://www.hpcuserforum.com/innovationaward/winners.html 
 
Description Collaboration between the AWE and STFC to explore the convergent fast electron beam concept using EPOCH 
Organisation Atomic Weapons Establishment
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I came up with the original concept and performed all of the initial modelling using EPOCH and ARCHER.
Collaborator Contribution The AWE will perform more modelling using an expanded version of the EPOCH code on their machines. This will allow additional physics to be looked at in a more computationally efficient manner.
Impact Collaboration and dialogue between research teams.
Start Year 2014
 
Description eCSE project: Optimised Field Solves in GS2 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Department ARCHER Service
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Successful application for embedded CSE support from Archer team. Focus of collaboration is to improve one section of the plasma simulation code GS2. Preliminary code profiling suggests this section is limiting the performance of GS2 at large number of processors. A preliminary work plan and outline of the issues has been produced.
Collaborator Contribution Partners are responsible for investigating suggested improvements and implementing those found to be beneficial as well as considering alternative approaches.
Impact This project is still underway, but should benefit all users of GS2, which span a range of different physics areas (magnetically confined fusion relevant plasma physics, astrophysical plasma physics and basic plasma physics).
Start Year 2014
 
Title Chimera 3D radiation hydrodynamics model - 2016 version 
Description Chimera is a new capability for modelling high energy density physics experiments using soft X-ray indirect drive. The model is based on an efficient parallel 3D magneto-hydrodynamics algorithm and has been modified to include multi-group radiation diffusion models based on non-LTE DCA opacity data. The code can run in Cartesian, cylindrical or spherical geometry. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This new model has enabled us to investigate the effects of the growth of 3D asymmetries on the performance of inertial confinement fusion capsules on the National Ignition Facility, including the effects of asymmetry in the driving radiation source and defects in capsule manufacture. 
 
Title Field-line map based mesh-free method 
Description A type of mesh-free element method for representing continuous functions has been found. This can be used in computational simulations of movement and transport in systems with elongated structures. It is particularly appropriate for describing turbulence in tokamaks, especially when the field topology is complicated beyond the X-point. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact A user-friendly software implementation of this newly developed software technique is under design: this has not yet been found end-user application. 
 
Title GS2 Eigensolver 
Description The plasma turbulence code GS2 originally operated solely as an initial value code (i.e. advancing equations in time). By coupling to the SLEPc library it was possible to produce an eigenvalue mode of operation which allows more detailed studies of linear systems to be undertaken. This can aid understanding and is very useful in benchmarking/testing the code. It also offers the option in the future for more detailed analysis/diagnosis of nonlinear systems. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This mode of operation is proving useful in several areas of ongoing research work, making possible and contributing directly to publications in preparation. 
 
Title Release of EPOCH code 
Description Release of the EPOCH particle-in-cell code as a publicly available software package. EPOCH has been developed primarily at the University of Warwick as a multi-purpose plasma simulation code. QED algorithms and code to model gamma-ray and electron-positron pair production were developed at Oxford. Warwick implemented the QED package in the publicly released version of EPOCH. The fully documented code is available at https://cfsa-pmw.warwick.ac.uk/EPOCH/epoch. It is being used by experimentalists and theorists from many countries. This initial release of EPOCH was in 2011 but this is continually updated. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The UK is now recognised as a world leading centre for kinetic plasma simulations for laser-plasmas 
URL https://cfsa-pmw.warwick.ac.uk/EPOCH/epoch
 
Title Release of GS2 Code v8.0.1 
Description GS2 is a physics application, developed to study low-frequency turbulence in magnetized plasma. It is typically used to assess the microstability of plasmas produced in the laboratory and to calculate key properties of the turbulence which results from instabilities. It is also used to simulate turbulence in plasmas which occur in nature, such as in astrophysical and magnetospheric systems. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact GS2 is one of the pioneering gyrokinetic codes used for the study of plasma turbulence in magnetically confined plasmas, and the code continues to be developed and widely used for state-of-the-art plasma turbulence calculations. GS2 has recently been transferred from svn to git and installed in a new and more functional repository at bitbucket. Adoption of CI improves the software's sustainability, and this first release from the new repository includes a range of bug fixes and other code improvements. 
URL https://zenodo.org/record/2551067
 
Description Cambridge University Physics Society, public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Generated enthusiasm for the research field amongst undergraduate and postgraduate student members to the Cambridge University Physics Society.

Further contacts were made with the society to initiate laboratory tours and further stimulate interest in the subject as well as encouragement to undertake a PhD in this area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://physics.soc.srcf.net/wiki/index.php?title=Cambridge_University_Physics_Society
 
Description Invited seminar at the University of Oxford: Self-generated current structures in relativistic laser-solid interactions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Research Frontiers presentation - Imperial College 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Informed audience of recent interesting developments in the field and generated enthusiasm in undergraduates for direct participation in the research field.

Further interest in participation in research through summer internships and requests for PhD positions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/Physics/events/resfrontiers
 
Description Royal Society Summer Exhibition: Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This helped disseminate information about inertial confinement fusion research to a very wide public audience comprised of both school children and adults. Over the 5 days this stand reached many thousands of people. This gave rise to numerous interesting conversations and a lot of interest from both school children and adults alike. Hopefully it will help to inspire the next generation of scientist as well as informing the general public about the importance of our work to society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2014/heart-of-the-sun/
 
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Preparation and manning of a stand at the Royal Society one week long Summer Science exhibition, showcasing the best of British science. Them "Set the controls for the heart of the sun". Presentations, talks and demonstrations for several thousand visitors ranging from groups of school children through to journalists and Fellows of the Royal Society




Improved public understanding of the case for Fusion Energy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2014/heart-of-the-sun/
 
Description Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar on "Fusion Turbulence and Computational Challenge" at OeRC at University of Oxford.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016