Plasma Dynamics: ERC Grant for Dr. Marcel Pfeiffer, Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart
ERC success for University of Stuttgart: The European Research Council (ERC) awarded Dr. Marcel Pfeiffer, Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart, with one of the coveted ERC-Starting Grants. The 1.5 million euro prize supports outstanding young scientists for groundbreaking and visionary research. Marcel Pfeiffer will use the ERC Starting Grant named MEDUSA (Multiscale Fluid and Plasma Dynamics using Particles) to research non-equilibrium effects in gas and plasma dynamics, a fundamental topic for understanding the physical processes in many applications and fields of industry.
Non-equilibrium effects in gases and plasmas always occur when there are large local differences in ambient conditions, for example, when there are large temperature differences. Such effects are negligible for flows around a car or an airplane. However, if the differences become extreme, effects occur that cannot be described analytically, or only with great effort. This is the case, for example, under the conditions “very hot” and “very fast”, such as when a space capsule re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, or even with very small spatial dimensions, as in the micro- and nanofabrication of computer chips. Under these extreme conditions, many different components and parameters interact, making the simulations complex and only manageable on high-performance computers. This takes time and is expensive, which is why non-equilibrium effects are a problem especially in the industrial sector.
Against this background, the aim of the funded MEDUSA project is to develop stochastic, particle-based multi-scale methods for simulating gases and plasmas in thermochemical non-equilibrium. The aim is to raise the observation of the gas from the microscopic to the mesoscopic level, a middle range of visibility, which is located between the micro- and the macrocosm. “Our goal is to achieve the precision of microscopic observation with the speed of macroscopic observation,” explains Pfeiffer. This is an interdisciplinary project in which physics, mathematics, chemistry, and computational science need to be combined. The basis of the project is the open-source particle code “PICLas”, which is to be extended. It was developed in a long-term collaboration between the Institute of Space Systems and the Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics (IAG) at the University of Stuttgart with the support of the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS). Meanwhile, “PICLas” is already being used by various industrial partners and is the basis of “boltzplatz”, a successful spin-off of the University of Stuttgart.
About Marcel Pfeiffer:
Dr. Marcel Pfeiffer studied physics in Jena. For his dissertation, he researched non-equilibrium effects in gases and plasmas within the topic of spaceflight. Since 2016, he has been a postdoc at the University of Stuttgart and Development Manager of the open-source code “PICLas”.
Contact for scientific information:
Dr. Marcel Pfeiffer, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Space Systems, phone: +49 (0)711/685 60335, email: email@example.com