Numerical simulations of the fourier-transformed Vlasov-Maxwell system in higher dimensions: theory and applications

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We present a review of recent developments of simulations of the Vlasov-Maxwell system of equations using a Fourier transform method in velocity space. In this method, the distribution functions for electrons and ions are Fourier transformed in velocity space, and the resulting set of equations are solved numerically. In the original Vlasov equation, phase mixing may lead to an oscillatory behavior and sharp gradients of the distribution function in velocity space, which is problematic in simulations where it can lead to unphysical electric fields and instabilities and to the recurrence effect where parts of the initial condition recur in the simulation. The particle distribution function is in general smoother in the Fourier-transformed velocity space, which is desirable for the numerical approximations. By designing outflow boundary conditions in the Fourier-transformed velocity space, the highest oscillating terms are allowed to propagate out through the boundary and are removed from the calculations, thereby strongly reducing the numerical recurrence effect. The outflow boundary conditions in higher dimensions including electromagnetic effects are discussed. The Fourier transform method is also suitable to solve the Fourier-transformed Wigner equation, which is the quantum mechanical analogue of the Vlasov equation for classical particles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-465
Number of pages79
JournalTransport Theory and Statistical Physics
Issue number5-7
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • simulations
  • Vlasov-Maxwell system
  • fourier method
  • numerical simulations
  • higher dimensions
  • theory and applications
  • wigner equations


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