Accelerator physics codes

A charged particle accelerator is a complex machine that takes elementary charged particles and accelerates them to very high energies. Accelerator physics is a field of physics encompassing all the aspects required to design and operate the equipment and to understand the resulting dynamics of the charged particles. There are software packages associated with each such domain. A broader index of existing and historical accelerator simulation codes is located at [1]

Single particle dynamics codes

For many applications it is sufficient to track a single particle through the relevant electric and magnetic fields. Some such codes include:

Single Particle Dynamics Spin Tracking Collective Effects Notes
Accelerator Toolbox (AT),[2] Yes No Yes
BDISM[3] Yes No No For particle-matter interaction studies.
Beta [4] Yes No No
Bmad (contains PTC) [5] Yes Yes Yes Reproduces PTC's unique beam line structures
Elegant [6] Yes Yes Yes
MAD and MAD-X (includes PTC) [7] Yes No No
OPA [8] Yes No No
PTC[9] Yes Yes No
SAD [10] Yes No No
SAMM [11] Yes Yes No
TRACY and variants[12] Yes No No
Zgoubi [13] Yes Yes No


Spin Tracking
Tracking of a particle's spin.
Collective effects codes
The interactions between the particles in the beam can have important effects on the behavior, control and dynamics. Collective effects take different forms from Intra-Beam Scattering (IBS) which is a direct particle-particle interaction to wakefieds which are mediated by the vacuum chamber wall of the machine the particles are traveling in. In general, the effect of direct particle-particle interactions is less with higher energy particle beams. At very low energies, this space charge effect has a large effect on a particle beam and also becomes hard to calculate. The above simulation do not handle low energy space charge effects.

Low Energy Space Charge Codes

The self interaction (e.g. space charge) of the charged particle beam can cause growth of the beam, such as with bunch lengthening or intrabeam scattering, or it may cause an instability and associated beam loss. Typically the Poisson equation is solved at intervals during the tracking using Particle-in-cell algorithms. Many scientists have written special purpose codes to compute these growth values and instability thresholds. Codes include

Impedance computation codes

An important class of collective effects may be summarized in terms of the beams response to an "impedance". An important job is thus the computation of this impedance for the machine. Codes for this computation include

Magnet and other hardware-modeling codes

To control the charged particle beam, appropriate electric and magnetic fields must be created. There are software packages to help in the design and understanding of the magnets, RF cavities, and other elements that create these fields. Codes include

Lattice file format and data interchange issues

Given the variety of modelling tasks, there is not one common data format that has developed. For describing the layout of an accelerator and the corresponding elements, one uses a so-called "lattice file". There have been numerous attempts at unifying the lattice file formats used in different codes. One unification attempt is the Accelerator Markup Language, and the Universal Accelerator Parser.[34] Another attempt at a unified approach to accelerator codes is the UAL or Universal Accelerator Library.[35]

The file formats used in MAD may be the most common, with translation routines available to convert to an input form needed for a different code. Associated with the Elegant code is a data format called SDDS, with an associated suite of tools. If one uses a Matlab-based code, such as Accelerator Toolbox, one has available all the tools within Matlab.

Codes in applications of particle accelerators

There are many applications of particle accelerators. For example, two important applications are elementary particle physics and synchrotron radiation production. When performing a modeling task for any accelerator operation, the results of charged particle beam dynamics simulations must feed into the associated application. Thus, for a full simulation, one must include the codes in associated applications. For particle physics, the simulation may be continued in a detector with a code such as Geant4.

For a synchrotron radiation facility, for example, the electron beam produces an x-ray beam that then travels down a beamline before reaching the experiment. Thus, the electron beam modeling software must interface with the x-ray optics modelling software such as SRW,[36] Shadow,[37] McXTrace,[38] or Spectra.[39] Bmad,[5] is an exception since it can model both X-rays and charged particle beams. The x-rays are used in an experiment which may be modeled and analyzed with various software, such as the DAWN science platform.[40]

See also


  1. the CERN CARE/HHH website Archived December 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ATcollab website
  3. user's guide
  4. 1 2 Bmad home page at
  5. ELEGANT,a Flexible SDDS Compliant Code for Accelerator Simulation software
  6. MAD/MAD-X homepage at
  7. OPA website
  8. SAD home page at
  9. SAMM, another Matlab based tracking code, at
  10. libtracy at
  11. Zgoubi home page at
  12. TRANFT user's manual, BNL--77074-2006-IR
  14. ORBIT home page at
  15. PyORBIT repository
  16. Synergia home page at
  17. IMPACT homepage at Berkeley Lab
  18. GPT, General Particle Tracer, at Archived October 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. VSim at Tech-X
  20. TraceWin at CEA Saclay
  21. ABCI home page at
  22. 1 2 ACE3P at
  23. CST, Computer Simulation Technology at
  24. GdfidL, Gitter drueber, fertig ist die Laube at
  25. T. Weiland, DESY
  26. VSim at Tech-X
  27. COMSOL home page at
  28. CST Electromagnetic Studio at
  29. OPERA at
  30. VSim at Tech-X
  31. Description of AML and UAP at
  32. See references by N. Malitsky and Talman such as this manual from 2002.
  33. SRW home page at
  34. Shadow home page at
  35. McXTrace home page at
  36. Spectra home page at
  37. DAWN science platform website
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