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Flash Center moves to Rochester, advances cutting-edge physics research

January 19, 2022
Researchers looking on at wall-sized, vividly colored screens showing simulations of laser-driven experiments.Petros Tzeferacos (right), associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, senior scientist at the University's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), and director of the Flash Center for Computational Science, uses the University's VISTA Collaboratory visualization facility to explain FLASH simulations of a laser-driven experiment to (from left) LLE deputy director Chris Deeney, Flash center graduate research assistant and Horton Fellow Abigail Armstrong, and Flash center research scientist Adam Reyes. The center is devoted to computer simulations used to advance an understanding of astrophysics, plasma science, high-energy-density physics, and fusion energy. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The Flash Center for Computational Science offers researchers worldwide access to a computer code that simulates phenomena in astrophysics, high-energy-density science, and fusion research.

The University of Rochester is the new home of a research center devoted to computer simulations used to advance the understanding of astrophysics, plasma science, high-energy-density physics, and fusion energy.

The Flash Center for Computational Science recently moved from the University of Chicago to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rochester. Located in the Bausch and Lomb building on the River Campus, the center encompasses numerous cross-disciplinary, computational physics research projects conducted using the FLASH code. The FLASH code is a publicly available multi-physics code that allows researchers to accurately simulate and model many scientific phenomena—including plasma physics, computational fluid dynamics, high-energy-density physics (HEDP), and fusion energy research—and inform the design and execution of experiments.

“We are thrilled to have the Flash Center and the FLASH code join the University of Rochester research enterprise and family, and we want to thank the University of Chicago for working hand-in-hand with us to facilitate this transfer,” says Stephen Dewhurst. Dewhurst, the vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and associate vice president for health sciences research for the University, is currently serving a one-year appointment as interim vice president for research.

The ‘premiere’ code used at the world’s top laser facilities

Development of the FLASH code began in 1997 when the Flash Center was founded at the University of Chicago. The code, which is continuously updated, is currently used by more than 3,500 scientists across the globe to simulate various physics processes.

The Flash Center fosters joint research projects between national laboratories, industry partners, and academic groups around the world. It also supports training in numerical modeling and code development for graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral research associates, while continuing to develop and steward the FLASH code itself.

“In the last five years FLASH has become the premiere academic code for designing and interpreting experiments at the world’s largest laser facilities, such the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Omega Laser Facility at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), here at the University of Rochester,” says Michael Campbell, the director of the LLE. “Having the Flash Center and the FLASH code at Rochester significantly strengthens LLE’s position as a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology.”

Read the Laboratory for Laser Energetics special release to learn more about the Flash Center and its move to Rochester.

Petros Tzeferacos, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and a senior scientist at the LLE, serves as the center’s director. Tzeferacos’s research combines theory, numerical modeling with the FLASH code, and laboratory experiments to study fundamental processes in plasma physics and astrophysics, high-energy-density laboratory astrophysics, and fusion energy. Tzeferacos became director of the Flash Center in 2018 after serving for five years as associate director and code group leader, when the center was still housed at the University of Chicago.

“The University of Rochester is a unique place where plasma physics, plasma astrophysics, and high-energy-density science are core research efforts,” Tzeferacos says. “We have in-house computational resources and leverage the high-power computing resources at LLE, the Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC), and national supercomputing facilities to perform our numerical studies. We also train the next generation of computational physics and astrophysics scientists in the use and development of simulation codes.”

Research at the Flash Center is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the US DOE Office of Science Fusion Energy Sciences, the US DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the LLE.

“FLASH is a critically important simulation tool for academic groups engaging with NNSA’s academic programs and performing HEDP research on NNSA facilities,” says Ann J. Satsangi, federal program manager at the NNSA Office of Experimental Sciences. “The Flash Center joining forces with the LLE is a very positive development that promises to significantly contribute to advancing high-energy-density science and the NNSA mission.”


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Category: Science & Technology