Opera-3d Charged Particle Module

Opera-3d is a finite element (FE) software suite for electromagnetic (EM), thermal and structural simulations. As part of Opera’s range of solver modules, the 3d Charged Particle Module  provides the ability to calculate the interaction of charged particle beams and plasmas with electrostatic and magnetostatic fields. This also includes the effects of space-charge and relativistic motion.

About the module

The 3d Charged Particle Module calculates the interaction of charged particles in electrostatic and magnetostatic fields. Using the FE method to solve Maxwell’s equations for the steady-state case in a discretized model, it provides a self-consistent solution including the effects of space-charge, self-magnetic fields and relativistic motion. The optional Lossy Dielectric Module also models the charging of dielectric materials and the effect this has on the solution.

The module provides a comprehensive set of emitter models, 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. With this Opera module users can also include multiple species of charged particles, each having user defined charge and mass.

Applications include the design of X-ray tubes, electron guns, ion-beam devices, and magnetron sputter coaters. Opera-3d supports multi-physics simulations, i.e. simulations involving more than one physical effect. For example, it is possible to calculate the temperature rise when kinetic charged particles bombard a surface, and also to calculate the resultant deformation and stress induced by thermal expansion. The deformed structure can then be used to determine the effect on the EM solution.


Opera-3d runs on Windows and Linux platforms A parallel option is available for shared memory computers.

Modeller and Post Processor

Opera-3d includes a geometric modeller used for model data definition, and a geometric post-processor offering results analysis. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) gives access to features specifically tailored for electromagnetics and multi-physics design. Users can program regularly performed actions into parameterized macro-files. The Modeller allows users to create models, define material properties, set boundary conditions and excitations, define emitters, create the mesh and launch the calculation. Users can build models from primitive shapes using Boolean operations, or import geometry from other CAD programs for which a range of I/O filters is available. A library of characteristics offers the user the opportunity to select from material data or input from user data. The Opera-3d mesh generator can create hexahedral, prism and tetrahedral meshes (with the mesh existing as a mixtures of types). Users can save themselves time and inconvenience by implementing automatic meshing, which requiring little or no user setting in many cases. The generator offers sophisticated facilities to finely control the mesh where required. The Post Processor can be used to interrogate solutions, which are conveniently are stored in a database.
Multispecies tracking in combined fields


  • 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


  • Charged particle flow
  • Electrostatic fields
  • Magnetostatic fields
  • Space charge
  • Self-magnetic field
  • Relativistic particle flow
  • Lossy dielectric
  • Multi-physics simulation
  • Thermal
  • Stress

Emitter Models

  • Thermionic
    • Thermal saturation
    • Space-charge limited emission
    • Langmuir/Fry
  • Field effect
  • User defined emitter
  • Plasma free surface
  • Surface secondary emission (backscattered and true secondary)
  • Volume interactions (backsatter, ionisation)
  • Magnetized plasma

Which modules do I need? Charged Particle Module Volume emission option Magnetised plasma option 3d Statics EM Module  Lossy dielectric option
Primary and secondary emission from surfaces ü        
Secondary emission in volumes ü ü      
Charged particles in electrostatic fields ü        
Charged particles in electro and magneto-static fields ü     ü  
Dielectric charging ü       ü
Self-consistent model of magnetised plasma ü ü ü ü