An Immersed-Finite-Element Particle-in-Cell Simulation Tool for Plasma Surface Interaction


A novel Immersed-Finite-Element Particle-in-Cell (IFE-PIC) simulation tool is presented in this paper for plasma surface interaction where charged plasma particles are represented by a number of simulation particles. The Particle-in-Cell (PIC) method is one of the major particle models for plasma simulation, which utilizes a huge number of simulation particles and hence provides a first-principle-based kinetic description of particle trajectories and field quantities. The immersed finite element method provides an accurate approach with convenient implementations to solve interface problems based on structured interface-independent meshes on which the PIC method works most efficiently. In the presented IFE-PIC simulation tool, different geometries can be treated automatically for both PIC and IFE through the geometric information specified in an input file. The set of parameters for plasma properties is also assembled into a single input file which can be easily modified for a variety of plasma environments in different applications. Collisions between particles are also incorporated in this tool and can be switched on/off with one parameter in the input file. Efficient modules are adopted to integrate PIC and IFE together into the final simulation tool. Hence our IFE-PIC simulation package offers a convenient and efficient tool to study the microcosmic plasma features for a wide range of applications. Numerical experiments are provided to demonstrate the capability of this tool.


Mathematics and Statistics

Second Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Keywords and Phrases

Electric propulsion; Immersed finite elements; Particle-In-Cell; Plasma surface interaction

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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Publication Date

01 Jan 2017