Simulations of relativistic quantum plasmas using real-time lattice scalar QED

Yuan Shi, Jianyuan Xiao, Hong Qin, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Real-time lattice quantum electrodynamics (QED) provides a unique tool for simulating plasmas in the strong-field regime, where collective plasma scales are not well separated from relativistic-quantum scales. As a toy model, we study scalar QED, which describes self-consistent interactions between charged bosons and electromagnetic fields. To solve this model on a computer, we first discretize the scalar-QED action on a lattice, in a way that respects geometric structures of exterior calculus and U(1)-gauge symmetry. The lattice scalar QED can then be solved, in the classical-statistics regime, by advancing an ensemble of statistically equivalent initial conditions in time, using classical field equations obtained by extremizing the discrete action. To demonstrate the capability of our numerical scheme, we apply it to two example problems. The first example is the propagation of linear waves, where we recover analytic wave dispersion relations using numerical spectrum. The second example is an intense laser interacting with a one-dimensional plasma slab, where we demonstrate natural transition from wakefield acceleration to pair production when the wave amplitude exceeds the Schwinger threshold. Our real-time lattice scheme is fully explicit and respects local conservation laws, making it reliable for long-time dynamics. The algorithm is readily parallelized using domain decomposition, and the ensemble may be computed using quantum parallelism in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number053206
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 9 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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