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Scientists gain access to top European supercomputer

Scientists working on 10 research projects have been awarded precious computing time on JUGENE, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The projects, which cover fields as diverse as astrophysics, earth sciences, engineering and physics, gained access to JUGENE t...

Scientists working on 10 research projects have been awarded precious computing time on JUGENE, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The projects, which cover fields as diverse as astrophysics, earth sciences, engineering and physics, gained access to JUGENE thanks to the PRACE ('Partnership for advanced computing in Europe') project. Scientists in varied disciplines require access to supercomputers to solve some of the most pressing issues facing society today. PRACE is meeting this challenge head on by establishing a high performance computing (HPC) research infrastructure in Europe. Its work is supported by the Research Infrastructures budget lines of the EU's Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7), and it has been identified as a priority infrastructure for Europe by ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. JUGENE, which is hosted by Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany, is the first supercomputer in the network and has the distinction of being Europe's fastest computer available for public research. Competition for access to this world-class facility is fierce; PRACE received 68 applications requesting a total of 1,870 million hours of computing time from this first call for proposals. The 10 winning projects, which are led by scientists in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK, will share over 320 million core computing hours. The successful projects were selected on the basis of the scientific and technical excellence, their clear need for access to a top supercomputer, and the fact that they will be able to achieve significant research results within their allotted time. Jochen Blumberger of University College London (UCL) in the UK has been awarded 24.6 million core hours to investigate electron transport in organic solar cells. Organic solar cells are a promising alternative to silicon-based solar cells. In addition to being cheap and easy to produce, they are light and flexible, meaning they can easily be fitted to windows, walls and roofs. On the downside, they suffer from a low light-to-electricity conversion efficiency. One reason for their low efficiency involves the fate of the photogenerated electrons. Dr Blumberger's work on JUGENE will advance our understanding of the processes taking place in organic solar cells. Another project in the energy field comes from Frank Jenko of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany. His 50 million core hour project, which will shed new light on plasma turbulence, represents a contribution to the mega international fusion energy project ITER. Another UCL researcher, Peter Coveney, will use his 17 million core hour time budget to study turbulent liquids. Predicting the properties of turbulent fluids is extremely challenging, and Professor Coveney's work could have implications for our understanding of weather forecasting, transport and the dispersion of pollutants, gas flows in engines and blood circulation. Meanwhile Zoltán Fodor of the Bergische Universität Wuppertal in Germany has been awarded 63 million core hours to go back in time to the start of the universe, to a period when infinitesimally small particles, such as quarks and gluons, combined to form protons and neutrons which in turn came together to form atomic nuclei. The goal of Dr Fodor and his team is to analyse the properties of strongly interacting matter under 'extreme conditions'. Atmospheric boundary layers are at the heart of the 35 million core hour project submitted by Harmen Jonker of Delft University in the Netherlands. Boundary layers change as a result of daytime heating and wind shear. Understanding them is crucial for the generation of accurate weather, climate and air quality models. The other projects awarded access to JUGENE in this round of calls for proposals focus on molecular dynamics, magnetic reconnection, the deformation of metals, supernovae and quarks.

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Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal

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