Petascale Simulations of Kinetic Effects in IFE Plasmas

PI Frank Tsung, University of California, Los Angeles
3D speckle pattern

3D speckle pattern generated by the particle-in-cell code OSIRIS. The goal of this INCITE project is to studylaser plasma interactionswith higher-dimensionaleffects (such as laser speckles) and pave the way to 3D multi-speckle simulations in the upcoming exascale era. Credit: Frank Tsung, University of California, Los Angeles

Inertial fusion energy (IFE) devices hold incredible promise as a source of clean and sustainable energy, but there are significant obstacles to obtaining and harnessing IFE in a controllable manner.

A comprehensive model of laser-plasma instabilities (LPI) is crucial to the success of any IFE scheme, but one so far remains elusive. The physics involved in these processes (including both wave-wave and wave-particle interactions) is complex and highly nonlinear, necessitating the use of nonlinear kinetic computer models, such as fully explicit particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations. The ultimate goal—a long-standing challenge—is a constructed hierarchy of kinetic, fluid, and other reduced description approaches capable of modeling full spatial and temporal scales. Kinetic modeling has not yet yielded sufficiently complete understanding across the array of scales necessary to make strong connections with more approximate models and experiments.

The INCITE project is harnessing the power of DOE leadership computing resources to study the kinetic evolution of LPI on meaningful spatial and temporal scales directly relevant to various IFE scenarios. Using the popular PIC code OSIRIS, the team is performing fully kinetic simulations that will help advance research at the National Ignition Facility and other IFE experiments (e.g., direct drive and shock ignition studies at the OMEGA facility at the University of Rochester).