A hybrid method for accelerated simulation of coulomb collisions in a plasma

Russel Caflisch, Chiaming Wang, Giacomo Dimarco, Bruce Cohen, Andris Dimits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


If the collisional time scale for Coulomb collisions is comparable to the characteristic time scales for a plasma, then simulation of Coulombcollisions may be important for computation of kinetic plasma dynamics. This can be a computational bottleneck because of the large number of simulated particles and collisions (or phase-space resolution requirements i continuum algorithms), as well as the wide range of collision rates over the velocity distribution function. This paper considers Monte Carlo simulation of Coulomb collisions using the binary collision models of Takizuka and Abe and of Nanbu. It presents a hybrid method for accelerating the computation of Coulomb collisions. The hybrid method represents the velocity distribution function as a combination of a thermal component (a Maxwellian distribution) and a kinetic component (a set of discrete particles). Collisions between particles from the thermal component preserve the Maxwellian; collisions between particles from the kinetic component are performed using the method of Takizuka and Abe or of Nanbu. Collisions between the kinetic and thermal components are performed by sampling a particle from the thermal component and selecting a particle from the kinetic component. Particles are also transferred between the two components according to thermalization and dethermalization probabilities, which are functions of phase space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)865-887
Number of pages23
JournalMultiscale Modeling and Simulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Bump on tail
  • Coulomb collisions
  • Hybrid method
  • Plasma
  • Simulation
  • Thermalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecological Modeling
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications


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