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Running away and radiating

Project description

Unveiling the secrets of charged particle acceleration

Particle acceleration and radiation in plasmas hold tremendous potential, from cancer therapy to lightning initiation and energy production. However, understanding the complexities of this phenomenon remains a formidable challenge. Funded by the European Research Council, the PLASMA project will construct a flexible ensemble of theoretical and numerical models. By unravelling the mysteries of fast particle dynamics in magnetic fusion plasmas and laser-produced plasmas, the project aims to shed light on the intricate interactions that govern charged particle behaviour. With a layered approach, combining theory and numerics, this interdisciplinary endeavour promises to revolutionise our understanding of particle acceleration, paving the way for remarkable advancements in scientific research. Overall, the project’s aim is to herald a new era in plasma physics.


Particle acceleration and radiation in plasmas has a wide variety of applications, ranging from cancer therapy and lightning initiation, to the improved design of fusion devices for large scale energy production. The goal of this project is to build a flexible ensemble of theoretical and numerical models that describes the acceleration processes and the resulting fast particle dynamics in two focus areas: magnetic fusion plasmas and laser-produced plasmas. This interdisciplinary approach
is a new way of studying charged particle acceleration. It will lead to a deeper understanding of the complex interactions that characterise fast particle behaviour in plasmas. Plasmas are complex systems, with many kinds of interacting electromagnetic (EM) waves and charged particles. For such a system it is infeasible to build one model which captures both the small scale physics and the large scale phenomena. Therefore we aim to develop several complementary models, in one common framework, and make sure they agree in overlapping regions. The common framework will be built layer-by-layer, using models derived from first principles in a systematic way, with theory closely linked to numerics and validated by experimental observations. The key object of study is the evolution of the velocity-space particle distribution in time and space. The main challenge is the strong coupling between the distribution and the EM-field, which requires models with self-consistent coupling of Maxwell’s equations and kinetic equations. For the latter we will use Vlasov-Fokker-Planck solvers extended with advanced collision operators. Interesting aspects include non-Maxwellian distributions, instabilities, shock-wave formation and avalanches. The resulting theoretical framework and the corresponding code-suite will be a novel instrument for advanced studies of charged particle acceleration. Due to the generality of our approach, the
applicability will reach far beyond the two focus areas.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 948 750,00

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Södra Sverige Västsverige Västra Götalands län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 948 750,00

Beneficiaries (1)