NPRE 598 Computational Plasma Physics

Detailed course instructions and material is posted on Compass 2g at the following link:

Few general course information is reported in this page.



Dr. Davide Curreli

Office: 111J Talbot Laboratory, MC-234

Office Phone Number: (217) 300-1787

104 South Wright Street, Urbana IL 61801


Jon Drobny

Office: 129 Computing Applications Building


Shane Keniley

Office: 129 Computing Applications Building


Office Hours

Office Hours will be hold remotely via Zoom.

Instructors are available also via the Slack workspace

(links will be posted on Compass 2g)



Mon Wed 3:00-4:50 PM

Online via Zoom, Zoom links posted on Compass 2g



4 credit hours



NPRE 421



[80%] Computational Projects

[20%] For completing the in-class tutorials

[EXTRAS] Contribution to the Repositories, in-class participation, Slack discussions



The course will cover the main numerical methods used to describe the matter in the state of plasma. The first part of the course will focus on particle methods as initial value problems, privileging finite-difference schemes in time (Euler, mid-point, Runge-Kutta, Cash-Karp, symplectic integrators) and including error quantification for each scheme, and the Von Neumann stability analysis. The second part will cover fluid plasma methods, comprising diffusion-advection-reaction problems, MHD, and Braginskii models. Discretizations for each model will be analyzed and discussed in detail, with exercises and examples at each step. The third part of the course will cover kinetic methods, mainly focusing on Boltzmann and Fokker-Planck models, and their most important discretization techniques.



[0] Lecture notes

[1] R.W. Hockney, J.W. Eastwood, Computer Simulation Using Particles, CRC Press, 1989 C.K.

[2] Toshiki Tajima, Computational Plasma Physics, Westview Press, FIP 12, 2004

[3] Birdsall, A.B. Langdon, Plasma Physics via Computer Simulation, CRC Press, 2004

[4] Stephen Jardin, Computational Methods in Plasma Physics, Chapman & Hall/CRC Computational Science, CRC Press; 1 edition (June 2, 2010)


W D Module Content Tutorials


8/24 Course intro. Software tools needed and installation. Surveys. Discussion on Tutorials and Projects


Charged Particle Motion

Magnetic Fields: structure, solution, examples, magnetic mirror, toroidal fields; BFIELD walkthrough Tutorial M1-1
Magnetic Field Solutions


8/31 Particle Integrators Part 1: Initial value problems in space and time; FD schemes
9/2 Particle Integrators Part 2: Euler, mid-point, RK4; Hirt analysis; Von Neumann stability Tutorial M1-2
ODE Integrators


9/7 Hands-on Session: Single Particle Motion in Uniform Electromagnetic Fields Tutorial M1-3
Motion in Uniform Fields
9/9 Single Particle Motion in Curvilinear Electromagnetic Fields Tutorial M1-4

Motion in Curvilinear Fields



9/14 Single Particle Motion in Curvilinear Electromagnetic Fields Tutorial M1-5

Motion in Curvilinear Fields

9/16 Assignment of Computer Project Module 1 on Charged Particle Motion (due in 10 days)




Particle Collisions

N-Body problem between interacting charges and the Binary Collision Approximation (BCA) Tutorial M2-1

N-body Problems

9/23 BCA: kinematics, distance of closest approach, deflection angle, scattering integral; atomic potential; interaction potential Tutorial M2-2

Scattering Integral in RustBCA



9/28 BCA: Stopping Power and its Quadratures Tutorial M2-3

Quadratures / Stopping Power

9/30 BCA: Range, Implantation, Sputtering and collective effects of plasma-surface interactions Tutorial M2-4

Collective Phenomena



10/5 Assignment of Computer Project Module 2 on Charged Particle Collisions (due in 10 days)
10/7 Group session, discussion




Fluid Models

FD for Fluid problems Upwind, Leapfrog, with examples 1D advection Tutorial M3-1

FD for Field Problems

10/14 FE for Fluid problems, the diffusion-advection-reaction problem, intro to MOOSE Tutorial M3-2

FE for Field Problems



10/19 The ZAPDOS-CRANE tool: overview of the theory and structure of the input file Tutorial M3-3

Practice on the Input File

10/21 Plasma Chemistry in CRANE: Argon Plasma and Nitrogen Plasma Discharges Tutorial M3-4

Plasma Chemistry in CRANE



10/26 ZAPDOS-CRANE, 1D Dielectric Barrier Discharge Tutorial M3-5

Dielectric Barrier Discharge

10/28 Assignment of Computer Project Module 3 on Fluid Methods (due in 10 days)
11 11/2  


Kinetic Models

Kinetic Theory Part 1: PIC method and Operator Splitting
11/4 Kinetic Theory Part 2: Fields and Collision Operators
12 11/9 PIC Theory Part 1
11/11 PIC Theory Part 2


11/16 Tutorial Session: PIC Exercise 1 Landau Damping Tutorial M4-1

PIC Landau Damping

11/18 Tutorial Session: PIC Exercise 1 Two-stream Tutorial M4-2

PIC Landau Damping

14 11/23 Thanksgiving
11/25 Thanksgiving


11/30 Tutorial Session: PIC Exercise 3 Particle in a Box Tutorial M4-3

PIC Particle in a Box

12/2 Tutorial Session: PIC Exercise 4 Bump-on-Tail Tutorial M4-4

PIC Bumb-on-Tail



12/7 Assignment of Computer Project Module 4 on Kinetic Methods (due in 10 days)
12/9 Group Session, discussion