Curreli Chosen as NCSA Faculty Fellow


Susan Mumm, Editor

Curreli Chosen as NCSA Faculty Fellow


Assistant Prof. Davide Curreli
Assistant Prof. Davide Curreli

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications has chosen Assistant Prof. Davide Curreli as a Faculty Fellow to support his high-performance computing project involving plasma-material interactions and nanostructuring.


According to Curreli, a faculty member of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) at Illinois, the interaction of plasmas and material surfaces in the edge region of magnetically-confined plasmas poses significant challenges to the plasma-facing components. This obstacle currently limits the successful development of commercially-viable nuclear fusion reactors.

“Taming the Plasma-Material Interface is now one of the top priorities of required fusion science research to get to a demonstration fusion power plant,” Curreli said. “When exposed to plasma irradiation, plasma-facing materials exhibit evidence of surface morphology modifications and nano-structuring, with detrimental consequences on the thermo-mechanical integrity of the wall.”

Curreli and his group will develop and test on the Blue Waters (BW) supercomputing facility a new high-performance computing (HPC) model for Plasma-Material Interactions and Nanostructuring. “This is the first HPC modeling platform for kinetic analysis of the near-surface behavior of plasma-facing components. The code integrates a general multi-species, fully-kinetic 3D Particle-in-Cell model of the plasma sheath and plasma boundary with a 3D model of the surface morphology,” Curreli said. The large-scale production runs that Blue Waters’ petascale facilities make possible are required for the work.

“Developing predictive models for plasma-material interaction is not limited in scope to fusion sciences,” Curreli maintains. “There is an enormous public benefit if fusion energy technology can produce a cost-effective electric-power generating device.

“Long before that day though, there are additional benefits from understanding how we can control material nanostructuring via plasma processes,” Curreli continued. “For example, under the proper conditions of plasma irradiation, we can modify the surface of a tungsten piece and generate the same “fuzzy” nanostructures observed in fusion devices. This opens the possibility to modify the effective surface of a metal sample, and suggests new industrial processes for many applications. The experience gained in the fusion PMI area can be transferred to other fields of science and engineering.”

NCSA’s Fellowship program provides an opportunity for faculty and researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to catalyze and develop long-term research collaborations between Illinois departments, research units, and NCSA. This competitive program provides seed funding for demonstration or start-up projects, workshops, and/or other activities with the potential to lead to longer-term collaborations around research, development and education.

"The NCSA Faculty Fellow award recognizes the most promising researchers in the advanced computational field," said NPRE Department Head Jim Stubbins. "Davide's work clearly has already made signficant contributions, and this is a further recognition of his research impact."