GPU-Accelerated Model Reveals Details of Nuclear Fission

Scientists from University of Washington, Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, have developed a model that provides a detailed look at what happens during the last stages of the fission process.

According to their research paper, nuclear fission has almost reached the venerable age of 80 years and yet we still lack an understanding in terms of a fully quantum microscopic approach.

Using the new model, the scientists determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart and the predicted kinetic energy agrees with results from experimental observations. This discovery indicates that complex calculations of real-time fission dynamics without physical restrictions are feasible and opens a pathway to a theoretical microscopic framework with abundant predictive power.

Snapshots of the total density profile of the 240Pu fission process.
Snapshots of the total density profile of the 240Pu fission process.

Evaluating the theory amounted to solving about 56,000 complex coupled nonlinear, time-dependent, three-dimensional partial differential equations for a 240Pu nucleus using a highly efficient parallelized GPU code. The calculations required nearly 2,000 NVIDIA GPUs on the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab.

By accurately modeling fission dynamics, the work will impact research areas such as future reactor fuel compositions, nuclear forensics, and studies of nuclear reactions.


About Brad Nemire

Brad Nemire
Brad Nemire is on the Developer Marketing team and loves reading about all of the fascinating research being done by developers using NVIDIA GPUs. Reach out to Brad on Twitter @BradNemire and let him know how you’re using GPUs to accelerate your research. Brad graduated from San Diego State University and currently resides in San Jose, CA. Follow @BradNemire on Twitter
  • grumpy

    I’ve been wondering why plasma physicists are so offended by LENR aka “cold fusion”. Obviously the math and simulation aren’t capable of reaching the scale needed for LENR. The math is so much harder in a solid, with millions of interacting particles, than in a plasma, where two particles are surrounded by a random equilibrium. I’m surprised there are so many mysteries left in fission, but nuclear models of big atoms are also hard.
    High Temperature Superconductors also have eluded analytic math or simulation, as they are just as complicated as the LENR reaction.

    • Alex

      I’m not sure “offended” is the right word, but it’s generally not been proven that LENR is a viable fusion method. As far as I recall the e-cat results were the only ones and they haven’t been reproduced by independent labs, which makes them suspect.

      I guess then there’s the general skeptical viewpoint that “if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is”, and cold fusion definitely falls into that category IMO.

      Having said that, if someone accurately described an experiment that allowed me to reproduce cold fusion in a lab then I, like most, would be very willing to try it out.

  • hfilipenk .

    model of nucleus and the table of elements