Berkeley Lab

State-of-the-art simulation for better particle accelerators

Accelerators are a vital part of the DOE-supported infrastructure of discovery science. Learn how we get the most out of them by using advanced computer techniques to optimize performance, ensure cost-effectiveness, and explore new ideas.

Computers have revolutionized not only our day-to-day lives, but the ways in which things of all kinds are designed. Through simulation and modeling, we can maximize performance, look for hidden trouble spots, and even find new ideas. Particle accelerators — among the most complex and in some cases among the largest high-tech items ever built — were early beneficiaries of computerized analysis, and today these tools have become indispensable.

In LBNL’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division, simulation efforts are coalescing, interacting, and finding synergies through the Beam, Plasma & Accelerator Simulation Toolkit (BLAST) Program. These efforts involve deep collaboration among physicists, applied mathematicians, and computer scientists. The results benefit a wide variety of fields extending across much of the DOE Office of Science research portfolio and beyond.

Accelerators are key to exploring the fundamental nature of the universe, but today they do far more. The particle and photon beams that they provide have become tools for many other fields of science and technology, and practical applications have co-evolved with the machines themselves and improve our day-to-day lives in a great many ways. Using computational techniques to build better accelerators has broad benefits to the research community and thence to society.

The uses of these codes are as diverse as accelerators themselves. Simulation helps us design and understand all types of accelerators — linacs and storage rings for leptons or hadrons or ions with multiple charge states — and all parts of the system-of-systems that is a modern accelerator facility, from injectors through transfer lines and into storage rings. Novel approaches such as laser-plasma accelerators, and devices with related physics such as ion traps, also benefit.

The long-term goals of BLAST are to serve the worldwide user community of our existing codes and bring new ones into their ecosystem. Throughout, we seek greater fidelity as proven analytically and through experimental benchmarking; seek higher efficiency so that greater detail can be achieved with the computational resources available to users; and enhancement and integration of codes for ever more comprehensive multiphysics modeling. Development of innovative algorithms, as well as realizing them in software, is key to our efforts.

Berkeley Lab is a natural site for these endeavors. Some 80 years after its founder and namesake invented the cyclotron, the laboratory remains a leader in particle-accelerator R&D. It is also home to a pair of invaluable central resources for modeling and simulation: a strong and highly collaborative computational research division and the National Energy Research Supercomputing Center.

We invite you to explore this site and learn more about how simulation and modeling make for better particle accelerators, thus supporting the Department of Energy’s R&D mission.