The Plasma-CCP Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics


Plasma is the dominant state of matter in the observable universe, and modern research in basic plasma physics is largely underpinned by computational plasma physics. Computational plasma physics is pivotal in efforts to develop a range of practical plasma based applications. The Plasma-CCP brings together computational plasma physicists with expertise in two major plasma application areas: magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) and laser-plasma interactions (LPI). Plasma physics lies at the heart of both application areas, but scientists tend to operate in separate communities owing to significant differences in geometrical constraints and in the physical regimes of interest. Plasma-CCP's main activity is built around core codes that are crucial for the future development of both MCF and LPI, but we note that these codes are by their very natures rather specific to each sub-discipline. The Plasma-CCP adds considerable value to the whole of plasma physics by fostering the exchange of ideas, algorithms and computer science expertise between sub-disciplines.
Specific science addressed by the MCF side of Plasma-CCP includes:
- Developing high fidelity models of plasma turbulence in the core and edge of MCF devices
- Comparing HPC simulations using state-of-the-art models against data from MCF experiments
- Exploiting turbulence models to optimise design/predict fusion performance in future devices
- Understand the transport of heat and charged particles along and across magnetic fields, interaction between plasmas, neutral gas and material surfaces.
- Modelling how the edge plasma, nearest the reactor walls, impacts on reactor performance
The LPI side of Plasma-CCP addresses a wide range of basic science and fusion related research including:
- Optimising LPI parameters for next generation hadron accelerators for cancer treatment
- Laser driven electron acceleration with applications to novel light sources
- High-field LPI of interested to high-energy density physics
- QED-plasmas as expected from the next generation of high power lasers, e.g. the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) and Vulcan 20PW.
- Laser drive and plasma compression for inertial confinement fusion energy

Planned Impact

A key element of the Plasma-CCP will be training. This will inevitably lead to an increase in the skill base of the UK plasma physics community. This will be through workshops aimed at training new PhD students in the use of community developed codes, training post-doctoral researchers in best practice for software development and collaborations with computer scientists to ensure that our senior developers are aware of the latest developments in hardware and software for high-end computing. The uplift in key skills will therefore be at all levels throughout the community. Furthermore by coordinating the efforts of researchers from new PhD to senior academic a clearer path for career development will be visible to those just starting their research career.
International efforts to generate power from magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) will concentrate on the ITER experiment under construction in France. Key to optimising the performance of the multi-billion Euro facility will be improved modelling and understanding of the plasma transport in the core of the device and at the plasma-wall boundary. The Plasma-CCP network will strongly support the UK's standing, influence and strategic interests in the international fusion programme.
At an economic level the minimum impact from this network would be PhD students and young researchers who will have had a significant training in high-end computing. Most of these will go on to jobs outside of academia taking their high-level skills into UK industry. At a higher level this Network feeds into research programmes in fusion for power which are potentially world changing. If fusion does become a significant energy source, with its limitless fuel and zero CO2 emission, UK industry will have the opportunity to move into an area with potential revenues comparable to that of the world's oil and gas industries. The Plasma-CCP ensures that the expertise needed to exploit such opportunities exists within the UK. Laser-plasma physics efforts in the UK are aimed mostly at developing new technologies for proton accelerators for hadron therapy, imaging technologies through electron acceleration or next generation light sources. All of these research programmes are underpinned by the computational work of Plasma-CCP and all have the potential for significant financial exploitation, e.g. the Centre for Advanced Laser Technology and Applications (CALTA) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Finally at a societal level much of the work, as highlighted above, feeds into international efforts to generate fusion power. If successful this would radically change government policy to energy and help move society towards a greener, but still high-tech, future. In addition much of the laser-plasma work supported under this proposal is of relevance to the work undertaken at AWE plc. and thus feeds into a central component of the UK's national defence strategy.


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Description The collaborative meetings for software aimed at increasing the efficiency of magnetic confinement fusion power have helped understand how the outer layers of a fusion device could be improved through a more detailed understanding of the pedestal and divertors used in such devices. The training for the EPOCH code funded under this project has help researcher develop new technologies aimed at next generation light-sources for X-ray industrial imaging, hadron therapy for medical treatments and optimising laser-driven fusion.
Exploitation Route A significant part of this award is for running training courses. These get new PhD students and post-doctoral researchers up to speed in using and understand three key UK plasma physics codes. Each of these workshops are run annually and are usually attended by about 20 participants. Thus roughly 60 people are trained in using plasma codes a year, either from scratch or to become advanced users. The expertise they pick up at these workshops will aid them throughout their research career ensuring that these codes are taken forward and used for at least the next decade.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Energy

Description In fusion research the two codes supported by this award (BOUT++ and GS2) have helped clarify the energy transport in the outer regions of a tokamak. These results will feed into the new MAST-Upgrade facility at CCFE and through this into the international efforts to achieve fusion power through magnetic confinement. The PIC code EPOCH was used by AWE plc. in support of its laser-plasma research programme. Internationally there are now over 800 users of EPOCH.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Economic

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 CRAY Research link with GS2 community 
Organisation CRDM
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Lucian Anton of CRAY Research is collaborating with Joseph Parker on a project to complete the integration of shared memory into GS2
Collaborator Contribution Begun work on optimising the GS2 code to enable shared memory use of HPC facilities.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2015
Title Odin 
Description Odin is a 2D r-z geometry multi-material MHD ALE code. This is maintained on a private gitlab server along with detailed documentation. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This is the first full release of the Odin code but is currently restricted to the development team only. This includes researchers at Exeter, Warwick, Imperial College and York. This release is the first full Odin release which is able to complete simulations of pellet implosion for inertial confinement fusion (ICF). It includes MHD, conduction and a generalised Ohm's law. The ability to begin ICF simulations, albeit with an early release version of the Odin code, is essential for keeping the UK academic community actively involved in international ICF programmes. 
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 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 
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. 
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