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Electromagnetic design software optimises particle accelerator magnets for upgrade to CERN's Large Hadron Collider

Oxford, UK, September 15, 2014 — The Opera electromagnetic simulation software from Cobham Technical Services is helping scientists at CERN to design the magnets needed for the forthcoming upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in preparation for its high luminosity operation.


Both the two-dimensional (2d) and three-dimensional (3d) versions of Opera are being used to model a wide variety of the LHC injectors’ normal conducting (NC) electromagnets and permanent magnets, starting with the magnets of the new 160 MeV H- linear accelerator and including upgrades of the magnets used in the transfer lines and other accelerators on the way to the LHC.


Several tens of different magnet types and variants are presently being analysed using Opera-2d; these are then re-modelled in Opera-3d. By accurately simulating end effects, the Opera-3d tool facilitates design of more efficient magnets and allows local effects such as saturation and field harmonics due to non-planar symmetry to be taken into account early-on in the design process.


CERN’s Technology Department is also using Opera to design NC particle accelerator magnets for numerous other projects, including, for example, the ELENA (Extra Low Energy Antiproton) ring and the HIE-ISOLDE (HIgh Energy Isotope mass Separator On-Line) facility.


According to Daniel Schoerling, Project Engineer for NC magnets in CERN’s Technology Department, “With most of our magnet designs, we require very high prediction accuracy of the magnetic field quality in the good field region, typically of the order of 1/10,000 or better. Over the years we have gained confidence in Opera’s magnetostatic simulation performance for solid and laminated yoke magnets, supported by the effective correlation between simulation results and magnetic measurements obtained from manufactured units. When we observe differences higher than a few parts in 10000 we can usually attribute them to factors such as mechanical error or uncertainty of the BH curve of the material used for the magnet’s manufacture. In fact, because of the accuracy of the software’s magnetic length and field quality predictions, with many of our magnet designs we no longer need to incorporate any means of performing post-production field quality correction."


The core finite element analysis technology behind Opera was developed originally to support the design of particle accelerator magnets, starting with a project in the 1970s by scientists at the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. At that time, the software required a mainframe computer and was intended principally to help solve design problems with the move towards superconducting magnets for higher energy particle accelerators. Today, the software addresses multiple types of physics – including electromagnetic, thermal and stress – and offers 2d and 3d design, simulation, analysis and optimisation facilities to anyone with access to a standard PC. Used by universities, engineering companies and research organisations worldwide, it is also the design tool of choice of CERN’s Technology Department for all normal-conducting (NC) magnets.



For more information please contact Amanda Machado at:

Cobham Technical Services, Vector Fields Software, Network House, Langford Locks, Kidlington, OX5 1LH, UK.
t: +44 (0)1865 370151
f: +44 (0)1865 370277


About Cobham
Cobham protects lives and livelihoods with its differentiated technology and know-how, operating with a deep insight into customer needs and agility. The Group offers an innovative range of technologies and services to solve challenging problems in harsh environments across commercial, defence and security markets, from deep space to the depths of the ocean, specialising in meeting the growing demand for data, connectivity and bandwidth.

Employing more than 10,000 people on five continents, the Group has customers and partners in over 100 countries, with market leading positions in: audio, video and data communications, including satellite communications; defence electronics; air-to-air refuelling; aviation services; life support and mission equipment.


About Cobham Technical Services
Cobham Technical Services produces the world's most advanced software for modelling and analysing electromagnetic equipment and effects. Its virtual prototyping tools speed the design process – helping to achieve a user's goal, whether that is lowest cost, optimum performance, ease of manufacture, or the best combination.