VSim for Plasma Discharges

VSimforPlasmaDischarges30pxHState-of-the-art Kinetic Plasma Modeling


VSim sputtering magnetron model

Continuously Updated Features Ensure that Your Simulations are Performed Using the Most Rigorous and Precise Methods Available

VSim for Plasma Discharges (VSimPD) is a flexible, multiplatform, high-performance, parallel software tool for numerically efficient kinetic simulations of arbitrary pressure gas discharges. VSimPD computes full kinetics for arbitrary pressure gas discharges including the effects of elastic, excitation, and ionization collisions between electrons, ions, and neutral particles using Particle-In-Cell Monte Carlo (PIC-MCC) and PIC-DSMC methods and also including charge exchange, electron recombination, sputtering, and secondary emission. In the process it can also compute surface charging. Dielectric and metallic shapes can be rapidly imported from CAD files or constructed in the user-friendly front end, VSimComposer and are rapidly meshed with the proprietary VMesh algorithm. With VSim for Plasma Discharges, you will have the ability to solve full size problems rapidly in R-Z geometry or fully three dimensional.

Simultaneously Simulate Kinetic and Collisional Effects in Plasma

VSimPD explicitly tracks kinetic particle species in arbitrary-pressure background gases. Perform fast, efficient field solves in up to three dimensions with self-consistent particle evolution. Include secondary electron emission, sputtering, and particle-particle/particle-fluid interactions to faithfully model particle dynamics. Add feedback to simulate external circuitry.

VSim for Plasma Discharges can be used in the design cycle for plasma discharge and gaseous electronics devices. VSimPD simulates Capacitively Coupled Plasma Discharge Chambers. VSim can model plasma thrusters, including ion thrusters and Hall thrusters. It simulates satellite surface charging and dielectric barrier discharges. With its electrostatic computing capabilities, VSimPD can be used to simulate sputtering magnetrons.

Use VSimPD to simulate sheath formation in a plasma processing device, ion extraction from an ion source, evolutions of non-Maxwellian particle distributions, surface charging of equipment in a plasma environment, and much more.

Powerful Technology

VSimPD is a powerful and fast finite-difference code that uses advanced algorithms for handling conformal (non-grid aligned) boundaries. VSimPD implements distributed-memory (MPI) parallelism to enable you to solve any size problem, including simultaneously simulate kinetic and collisional effects in plasma. Whether you run VSim on a laptop, a computing cluster, or a supercomputer, your models will run rapidly using algorithms designed for the exacting demands of high performance computing systems. The full suite of electromagnetic and particle modeling features is available at an affordable price.


VSim is a flexible, multiplatform, software tool for running computationally intensive electromagnetic, electrostatic, and plasma simulations. VSim easily installs and runs on a variety of systems, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux platforms. Switching between 1, 2, and 3 dimensions is simple with VSim. Work easily in the required dimensionality, whether 1D for the basics, 2D to capture transverse effects, or fully 3D to ensure all geometric effects are included. Design your simulation using a laptop and run it there, or run the simulation on a cluster.

Easy to Upgrade

Each VSim package can be used stand-alone or in combination with one or more other specialty VSim packages. Start with VSim for Basic Physics to model classical physics. Then when you are ready to simulate more advanced physics problems, add the VSim package that does what you need. If you want to simulate electromagnetics in the presence of metallic and dielectric shapes, upgrade to VSim for Electromagnetics. To model RF power systems, add VSim for Microwave Devices. When you are ready to design plasma acceleration experiments, VSim for Plasma Acceleration can provide fast solutions. For plasma discharges, VSim for Plasma Discharges is available to simultaneously simulate kinetic and collisional effects in plasma.

Examples Make VSim Easy to Learn and Reduce Time to Results

Reduce your time from experiment to result with VSimPD. With its Visual Setup capabilities, the VSimComposer interface enables the user to set up plasma discharges simulations quickly and easily. Through a point-and-click interface, the user can select solvers and set boundary conditions.

VSimPD includes example simulations that you can use to obtain immediate results. The rich set of examples accompanying VSim for Plasma Discharges reduces your learning curve and enables you to obtain immediate results in plasma discharge simulation. For instance, the 1D and 2D Capacitively Coupled Plasma Discharge Chamber examples are useful starting points for modeling a CCP, as is the Turner Case 2 example.  Our Ion Thruster and Cylindrical Hall Thruster examples can jumpstart your ion thruster simulation.  The Ion Beam Sputtering example is useful if you are modelling Etching, Coating/Deposition, or DC & RF Sputtering. The Satellite Surface Charging example is also helpful for working with Coating/Deposition applications.  If you are investigating Beam Optics/Transport, you may be interested in beginning with our Proton Beam or Negative Ion Beam example.

A substantial amount of the value of the software was the support we received and the help setting up the ion source models. This has made VSim really useful for our research.

—Bruce Marsh, CERN

Tech-X scientists are active contributors to the field of plasma physics. Our development of advanced simulation techniques and methods is continuously incorporated into our software. Benefit from leading edge developments used in National Laboratories, university research departments, and industry. Take advantage of VSimPD's constantly updated range of capabilities for modelling kinetic particles and background fluids for your simulations.


VSim for Plasma Discharges performs accurate simulations of a full scale device by exploiting parallel computing power on any platform: Linux, Windows, or macOS.


Particle Features

  • Charged and neutral particles
  • Variable and constant weight particles
  • Relativistic particles
  • Tagged particles for particle tracking
  • Prescribed emission
  • Surface charge
  • Variable Weight particles
  • Split/combine macroparticles for weight management
  • Electron and ion induced secondary electron emission
  • Sputtering
  • Particle Boundary Conditions:
    • Absorbing
    • Reflecting
    • Periodic
    • Accumulating for surface charge
    • Partially transparent

Field and Fluid Features

  • Conducting and dielectric boundaries
  • Charge/current deposition: interpolators, area weighting, and 1st order
  • Euler fluid
  • Static background gas

Reaction Features

  • Particle-particle collisions
  • Particle-fluid collisions
  • Monte Carlo collision types:
    • Binary (In)Elastic
    • Two Reactants-to-Two Products Reaction
    • Three-body Recombination
    • Charge Exchange
    • Decay
    • Electron Ionization
    • Electron Scatter
    • Impact Ionization


  • Capture kinetic physics not available in other models
    • Valid from low to high pressures, large range of densities
    • Captures non-local effects
  • Physics you need for your problems:
    • collisions
    • multiple species
    • wall interaction
    • emitters
  • Ability to work from application examples similar to your own applications
  • Works on Linux, Windows, and macOS platforms running on laptops, desktops, clusters, and supercomputers
  • Scales to solve your largest problems. Accurate parallel decomposition for fast solutions
  • Powerful post-processing capabilities
  • Availability of non-proprietary output formats that you control, enabling you to access your data with public domain software, Matlab, or your own favorite tool
  • Economical: Use VSimPD as a standalone simulation tool or add advanced physics features as needed by including other VSim packages
  • Easy learning curve: Build your own simulations using built-in examples as a starting point
  • Superior customer support by world-class experts

Example Simulations Included

These example problems that demonstrate collisions and plasma reactions are included with VSim for Plasma Discharges to jumpstart finding the solution to your problem:

Examples Using Visual Setup

Visual Setup Examples are ready to run and easy to use.  Running a Visual Setup Example and then customizing the settings for your own simulation is the fastest way to learn VSim.

Capacitively Coupled
DC Plasmas

Examples Using Text Setup

Code your simulation, then run it.  Text Setup Examples demonstrate how to format a simulation input file using code syntax. If you like the level of control available through designing your simulation using VSim code blocks and Python, use a Text Setup file as the basis for your simulation project.

Capacitively Coupled



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VSim capacitively coupled plasma simulation model
Capacitively Coupled Plasma

Highest fidelity plasma models for capacitively coupled discharges, including all kinetic effects.

VSim kinetic collisions simulation

Kinetic Collisions

Electrostatic transport of a H-beam in a background gas of H2.

VSim cylindrical hall thruster magnetic field simulation
Cylindrical Hall Thruster

Simulation of a Stationary Plasma Thruster-100 (SPT-100) kinetically tracks electrons, xenon ions and sputtered hBN wall materials.

VSim model of satellite surface charging

Satellite Charging

Surface charging and plasma discharge modeling for simulations of spacecraft and their environments.


VSim ion thruster model
Advanced Dipole Above Conducting Plane

Simulation of a 40 cm diameter, 3-ring magnet cylindrical ion thruster discharge chamber plasma process kinetically tracking electrons (both primary and secondaries), xenon ions (singly charged and doubly charged), and xenon neutrals.


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