I’m looking for software that can simulate “hot” plasmas of multiple ion species...so some sort of simulation software that could calculate ion temperature and density distributions taking into account ion-ion, ion-electron, neutral-ion collisions. Preferably open-source, though a reasonably priced off-the-shelf package with a decent user interface would suffice.

I’m a beginner in coding having worked only with python and visual basic, I don’t have enough time to tamper with custom C++ and C libraries. I need an engine which is mainly concerned with the physics and the statistics of the system, not the implementation of coding behind the simulation.

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    $\begingroup$ If you don't have time to invest I doubt that you can have a reliable simulation. Nevertheless, you are better using a commercial solver then. Check the section in Wikipedia. $\endgroup$
    – nicoguaro
    Jul 29, 2019 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


As I alluded to in my comment on your post on the Physics SE, Smilei seems to offer everything you're looking for. It's powerful, it's open-source, and you don't need to modify the code in any way - all you need to do is initialize the simulation with whatever parameters you'd like to add and then run the program.

There are three caveats here, though. The first is that although there are several very simple and clear tutorials on how to use Smilei (see here for an example of how to simulate a thermal plasma), the amount of options can be daunting. I would suggest running a few tutorials and then simply adding blocks to those files as needed, rather than trying to write one from scratch yourself.

The second caveat is that, like all plasma simulations, if you want to examine a large or complicated system, you're going to need a lot of computing power. That's just the nature of the beast in computational physics. Running a real 3D simulation is almost always impossible to do without a supercomputer to work with. If you want to use a personal computer, then 1D simulations are a more realistic goal, and 2D simulations are possible as long as you keep the system small.

Lastly, after the simulation has been run, you'll need to analyze it as well. More information about how to do that can be found in the tutorials, but be prepared to spend some time learning some basic plotting and data analysis techniques if you aren't already familiar with them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the suggestion, but Smilei would require a Linux setup, which is only possible via a virtual machine in my case, but my Windows setup wouldn’t be able to handle it at a decent speed. Not to mention the extensive use of the terminal, I don’t have enough time to invest in learning Linux, as I could barely fit all my studies in to be honest. What about an alternative to VSim - a particle in cell simulator I think it’s called - which could take an input DWG or DXF file to set electrodes and boundary conditions up, and setup the initial ion distribution and other parameters vi $\endgroup$
    – Joeseph123
    Jul 27, 2019 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ What part of the code would be linux specific? It is C++ so that means the libs it depends on. Might be interesting to port to windows for non-cluster use. Workstation class like my 56 core dual CPU/GPU machine when 756GB of ram and 4@4TB SSD. It is a bit old, but still has some punch to it. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Oct 28, 2022 at 22:08

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