At the heart of magnet design for over 30 years

For over 30 years, the Opera finite element (FE) software for electromagnetic design has been used by scientists and engineers for designing and optimizing magnet systems to achieve the most demanding levels of performance. So much of science and technology is reliant on magnets, from electric motors to the most advanced experimental research into particle physics.

Opera has earned its position as the foremost FE design tool for magnets of all types by its consistent accuracy, ease of use, and ability to handle large and complex simulations routinely.

Opera is widely used by the scientific community for designing magnets for use in particle accelerators, ion-beam devices, MRI/NMR and a wide variety of other magnetic devices. The application-focussed software has evolved over the years and today provides comprehensive multi-physics simulation capable of investigating thermal and stress in addition to electromagnetics.

The software can also track charged particles through electromagnetic fields.  Because extremely high field precision is required in the imaging zone, the MRI/NMR application is particularly demanding. Opera was developed with this requirement in mind, and as a result most of the leading MRI and NMR equipment manufacturers use Opera for designing superconducting magnets, for carrying out quench simulations, and for designing magnet shielding. The software today provides comprehensive multi-physics simulation that is capable of investigating thermal and stress in addition to electromagnetics.


Frequently asked questions

In an accelerator magnet, magnetic fields are used to steer and focus charged particle beams. What tools does Opera have to rapidly assess field quality? And can I see how the particle beams behave?

Opera’s post-processor includes tools for characterizing field homogeneity or gradients in free-space volumes. For dipole, quadrupole and higher order multi-pole magnets, characteristics are usually calcu-lated as a set of Fourier coefficients on a circle or part circle. Similar functions are also available to display field homogene¬ity on spherical surfaces. Field values can be calculated at any point and Opera can directly track individual charged particles or systems of particles through or beyond the magnetic aperture. Results can be displayed in various ways, including: • 3D track lines through the geometry • projections onto the major coordinate planes • intersection points on any 2d plane • current or power density maps

Can Opera model pulsed magnets, especially the redistribution of currents in the conductors? And how does it deal with laminations?

Opera can perform transient simulations with a user-defined pulse for either the current in, or the voltage across the winding. The simulation is able to capture skin-effects and proximity effects. For magnets built using laminations, Opera has a material model that can treat a bulk volume – such as the magnet yoke - as a “packed” structure, thereby removing the need to model the individual laminations. The designer only needs to specify the packing factor of the lamination stack and the orientation of the plane of the laminations.

What physics can Opera capture in the superconducting windings of my magnet?

In most cases superconducting magnets can be accurately represented using stand¬ard coil models. However, Opera includes comprehensive facilities for modelling the detailed physics of superconductors when it is necessary to do so, for exam¬ple shielding produced by super-currents under Meissner effect conditions, or the hysteretic behaviour as a magnet current is ramped up and down. Opera’s most sophisticated model for superconducting windings is to simulate a quench. The Opera-3d quench simulator solves the time-transient coupled thermal and electromagnetic equations. The tool is able to model complete coils connected to supply/protection circuits and evaluate the effectiveness of the protection. Simulations can include heating from eddy currents in formers and support structures. Whilst Opera can simulate quench in a complete coil or system of coils, it can also model individual superconducting wires of both LT and HT superconductors.

How accurate is Opera for simulating NMR/MRI magnets?

Superconducting NMR/MRI magnets are usually represented by a proprietary coil model that is capable of producing highly accurate results for field homogeneity in the imaging region, measured in parts per million. This level of accuracy is essential for this application which relies on magnetically sensitive high-Q NMR resonances. Opera’s track-record for achieving such high accuracy has made it the premier simulation software for designing superconducting NMR/MRI magnets worldwide.

I’m designing superconducting solenoid MRI magnets and need to assess the small effect of the shielded room and the steel reinforcing on the magnet’s homogeneity?

The formulation used in Opera-3d’s magnetostatic solver (previously known as TOSCA) allows the field from this type of perturbation problem to be computed very accurately. The field from unshielded solenoids can be calculated using the Biot-Savart expression to one part in 100 million. The shield and the reinforcing structure will make a small perturbation to the central field, usually in the order of one part in one thousand which is well within the accuracy of Opera.

Can I assess how effective the shielding is for my proposed MRI facility?

Yes, Opera computes relatively small residual fields in shielded space very accurately, even if fields elsewhere in the model are much higher. Isosurfaces can be easily displayed in the Post-processor, allowing a 3D visualisation of the 5 Gauss limit.

What are the capabilities and results?

Quench in a LTS magnet with an HTS insert

Capabilities for Designers:

  • 2d and 3d device evaluation using advanced Finite Element simulation
  • Full non-linear and locally orthotropic material representations for both electromagnetics & thermal
  • Full anisotropic structural materials
  • Accuracy comparable with measurement
  • Rapid testing of design variants
  • Test under real-world conditions (i.e. across all operating and under fault conditions)
  • Include the power supply and load
  • Include thermal and structural analysis
  • Include magnetic hysteresis

Standard results include:

  • Field distribution
  • Field homogeneity and gradients
  • Fourier analysis coefficients
  • Associated Legendre polynomial coefficients
  • Peak fields on coils
  • Stray field / shielding effectiveness (EMC/EMI)
  • Particle beam trajectories
  • Dynamic performance of pulsed magnets
  • Forces and losses – coils, yokes and shielding
  • Deflection and stress due to mechanical loading
  • Cool down pre-stressing
  • Quench propagation
  • Protection circuit performance
  • Inter-turn / inter-layer voltages
  • Eigenfrequencies and Q-factors

Why choose Opera?

99% accurate to real world conditions

Highly accurate field calculations for permanent magnet, resistive and superconductive magnets.

Learn Opera with one years free support on new licences

Rely on the experience of experts who work at the cutting-edge of imaging applications and accelerator magnets technology

Consistent accuracy and ease of use


Opera has been at the forefront of electromagnetic design since 1984