Charged Particles

Reputable and effective multi-physics designs

With over three decades of experience working with some of the world’s top charged particle device designers, manufacturers and scientists, Opera produces reliable and effective multi-physics designs. Supported by engineers, expert in both finite element modelling and industrial applications, Opera ensures that users’ design solutions are easy to create and with a high level of accuracy.

The Charged Particle Module calculates the interaction of charged particles in electrostatic and magnetostatic fields. It uses the Finite Element method to solve Maxwell’s equations for the steady-state case in a discretized model, and provides a self-consistent solution including the effects of space-charge, self-magnetic fields and relativistic motion.

A comprehensive set of emitter models is provided, including thermionic and field effect emission from surfaces, secondary emission from surfaces and within volumes (used to model gas ionization), and models for unmagnetized and magnetized plasmas.

It is possible to include multiple species of charged particles, each having user defined charge and mass. Field emission, compared to the thermionic emission, can be a more attractive mechanism in extracting electrons from the cathodes because the electrons are emitted at room temperature (cold cathode) by the quantum mechanical field effect which requires less electrical power. Growing in popularity are carbon nano-tube emitters (as shown in the image on the right), which, because of their size, may be used in more portable devices.

Opera’s space charge solver incorporates a wide range of volume and surface emission models, including multi-regime field emission.

Frequently asked questions

What emitter models does the Opera Charged Particle module offer?

Opera’s Charged Particle module includes: • Thermionic - Thermal saturation - Space-charge limited emission - Langmuir/Fry • Field effect • Plasma free surface • Surface secondary emission (backscattered and true secondary) • Volume interactions (backscatter, ionisation) • Magnetized plasma • User defined emitter

What does Opera display in terms of ion beam statistics?

When it comes to evaluating the statistics of an ion beam, the starting point is usually a patch placed across the beam at some user-defined location. Standard tools in the Post-Processor can then extract intersection data, such as the current and velocity components of each intersecting trajectory and the number and current densities. From these, simple additional computations can generate beam metrics, including the moments, emittance and phase space.

Why are charged particle solutions iterative?

The beamlet space charge affects the electric field distribution and may also affect the current in the beamlets. A consistent voltage, current and space charge distribution is required and this is calculated by an iteration that updates the space charge distribution, recalculates the electric fields and then the beamlet trajectories.

Can Opera model Magnetron Sputtering?

Opera combines accurate finite element analysis with detailed models for plasma, sputtering, and film deposition to provide the first practical tools for magnetron design and optimization. Opera can be used to predict target erosion and to optimize utilization. It can accurately characterize the design of magnet systems, including multi-target coaters, and it can predict deposited film profiles and the deposition dynamics.

What is meant by Secondary Emission?

Secondary emission properties can be applied to labelled surfaces of the model. Collisions of the particle beamlets with these labelled surfaces are detected and secondary particles are introduced. These secondaries may also collide to produce further new secondary particles; the maximum number of generations of secondary particles can be limited. The space charge effects created by secondary particles can be excluded from the calculation.

Can Opera calculate the temperature rise due to the impact of kinetic charged particles onto a surface?

Opera is multiphysics software, so the heat generated due to the particle beam can be passed seamlessly to Opera's thermal module to calculate the resultant temperature rise.

Why choose Opera?

Cutting edge charged particle and plasma technology

Create sophisticated designs and achieve advanced results

Multiphysics modelling capabilities

Iron out prototype problems in advance, and discover new ways to achieve superior performance

Reduce production timescales and costs

Create designs that model multiple and simultaneous physical phenomena

What are the potential applications?


  • X-ray tubes
  • Beam focussing
  • Electron guns
  • Microwave tube focussing (DC)
  • Microwave tube collectors (DC)
  • Ion-beam sources
  • Plasma devices
  • Thin film PVD coatings
  • Thin film etching
  • Ion thrusters

Explore Opera's range of articles on charged particle applications: