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The particle-in-cell (PIC) technique has a rich history and its use in plasma physics continues to grow. Interesting perspectives on the history and philosophy behind PIC for plasma simulation can be found in [1-3].
For plasmas, charged particles interact self consistently via the electromagnetic fields they themselves produce. The PIC model works at the most fundamental, microscopic level. As a result, it is generally the most compute-intensive model in plasma physics. PIC codes are used in almost all areas of plasma physics, including magnetic and inertial fusion energy research, plasma-based acceleration and light sources, space physics, astrophysics, ion propulsion, and plasma processing. PIC algorithms are also used in cosmology, accelerator physics, and semi classical quantum simulations.
Unlike molecular dynamics codes that are widely used in chemistry, where particles interact as binary pairs, particles in PIC codes interact via fields which are calculated on a grid from a numerical solution to a set of differential equations. This is possible whenever there is some differential equation that “describes” the fields in terms of particle sources. There are a variety of PIC codes in common use. more...
PICKSC software activities
The UCLA plasma simulation group has an extensive history in developing and using PIC software. The current activities mostly center around software for studying high frequency plasma phenomenon for which electron kinetics is important. The group has developed and maintained…(expand)
Activities within PICKSC are aimed at moving the Framework and some production codes into an Open Source environmentas well as extracting some modules from the production codes into the UPIC Framework. (expand)
1. C. K. Birdsall and A. B. Langdon, “Plasma Physics via Computer Simulation,” McGraw-Hill, New York (1985).
2. R. W. Hockney and J. W. Eastwood, “Computer Simulation using Particles,” McGraw-Hill, New York (1981).
3. J. M. Dawson, “Particle Simulation of Plasmas,” Rev. of Modern Phys. 55, 403 (1983). doi link