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Reframing Accelerator Simulations

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Key Challenges:  Use advanced simulation tools to study the feasibility of plasma-based linear colliders and to optimize conceptual designs.  Much of the physics involved is nonlinear, requiring fully explicit and quasistatic particle-in-cell (PIC) approaches.

Why it Matters: The long-term future of high-energy physics accelerator research depends on successful development of novel ultra high-gradient acceleration methods. Techniques using lasers and plasmas have already been shown to exhibit gradients and focusing forces more than 1000 times greater than conventional technology, raising the possibility of ultra-compact accelerators for applications in science, industry, and medicine that are much smaller and cost considerably

But the underlying technology requires simulation because the theory is incomplete and experimentation is difficult or impossible.

Accomplishments: Taking advantage of special relativity, a new computational method results in up to 300-fold speedup of plasma-based accelerator simulations. 

3-D PIC simulations in Lorentz boosted frames, run on 4,000 nodes of NERSC's Cray XT4, have enabled, for the first time, exploration of propagations in meter scale with fully kinetic simulations from a few GeV to tens of GeV.  Only a first short-scale regime (plasma length < 1cm) would be possible in the standard laboratory frame.

Principal Investigator: Warren Mori, UCLA

More Information:  See  Nature Physics 6, 311 - 316 (2010), Computer Physics Communications 181, 869-875 (2010), and http://exodus.physics.ucla.edu