Three-Dimensional Particle-in-Cell and Electromagnetic Simulations

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Abstract

In computational plasma physics the development of simulation techniques and their application has followed an evolution which has been determined, in part, by the cost, speed, and availability of computers. The ever increasing power of modern supercomputers has allowed a progression from modeling of one-dimensional simple problems to two-dimensional simulations which involve complicated geometry and multiple physical processes. One- and two-dimensional PIC codes have become standard research tools and have been applied to an extremely broad set of basic physics and engineering problems. Fully three-dimensional plasma and field models have the obvious attraction that they can deal with problems that are inherently three-dimensional and cannot be analyzed in lower dimensionality, problems in which the dimensionality is suspected to have a role, and design problems in which three-dimensional concepts are a possible option if risk can be assessed through computation or analysis. Until recently the use of general three-dimensional plasma codes, while conceptually attractive, was simply not affordable or highly impractical, requiring very long running times and excessive memory or auxiliary storage.