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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P02212X/1
Title: Extension and optimisation of the EPOCH code
Principal Investigator: Bennett, Dr K
Other Investigators:
Arber, Professor T
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2017 Ends: 31 May 2019 Value (£): 236,478
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jan 2017 Software Infrastructure 24 January 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Plasmas are fully ionized gasses that arise naturally at high temperatures. They are the most common state of matter in the Universe but the high temperatures usually required make them rare on Earth. For engineering, terrestrial applications plasmas are important as the basic fuel for any potential fusion reactor. These rely on heating a gas of hydrogen isotopes to 100's of millions of degrees Centigrade. Such attempts to achieve fusion using lasers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California have encountered problems. One of the potential causes of this lack of performance on NIF is the deleterious influence of electrons accelerated to higher than the ambient electron temperature, so called hot-electrons. These are caused by complex laser-plasma interactions. Any modeling of such processes must follow the full kinetics of the plasma - that is follow the motion of millions of individual particles evolving in the plasma under the influence of the electro-magnetic force. The most common sort of computer code that does this is called a particle-in-cell (PIC) code.

This project aims to complete a software refresh and update of the existing UK community PIC code EPOCH. This code has been established as a leading PIC code over the last few years since the first major releases of the code were publicized. The growing UK and international community of users, currently over 400, has defined a set of new physics packages and optimisations to EPOCH that will establish it as a leading PIC code research tool for many years to come. It is proposed to recruit a young researcher; train them in research software engineering and PIC codes and over two years complete the full refresh.

The new science that the upgraded EPOCH will allow us to undertake includes at scale simulations of the laser-plasma problems in NIF, hot-electron acceleration in advance fusion concepts such as shock ignition and fast ignition. Beyond fusion EPOCH can be used to simulate experiments designed to build compact electron and proton (hadron) accelerators, the latter with an aim of delivering a device for medical hadron therapy. At the more exotic end of plasma research are ideas based around the Extreme Light Infrastructure ELI - a multi-national collaboration based around several EU cites which use the most powerful lasers ever built. At these intensities the electron relativisitic mass approaches that of the proton and QED effects allow the generation of gamma-rays for nuclear physics research and dense electron-positron pair plasmas. All of these experiments require PIC codes to design targets and interpret results. EPOCH will deliver that capability to the UK. Currently EPOCH is being used for many of these applications but the refresh proposed here takes PIC codes into a new realm of fidelity and opens new science not accessible with the existing code.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk