ARCoS code

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Welcome to the ARCoS site

Welcome to the site of the Adaptive Refinement Code for Streamers (ARCoS). ARCoS is a numerical code for the simulation of streamer discharges developed at the Dutch Center of Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI). It has resulted from research both in the physics of streamers and in numerical algorithms developed in the last years at the Multiscale Modelling and Nonlinear Dynamics group.

ARCoS is a state-of-the-art numerical tool featuring:

  • Adaptivively refined grids.
  • Fast photo-ionization calculation through partial differential equations.
  • Plane-plane and point-plane electrode geometries.
  • 3D calculations through Fast Fourier Transforms.
  • Parallel computations in multi-core machines.
  • Automatic code generator for plasmo-chemical models.


This is a list of people that has been involved on the development of ARCoS in the past years

Ute Ebert 
As head of the Multiscale Dynamics group MD (formerly MAS3 Modeling, Analysis and Simulation), Ute started the development of ARCoS and supervised its development.
Willem Hundsdorfer 
As a Numerical Analysis expert, he has overviewed and contributed to the development of ARCoS since the beginning.
Margreet Nool 
Senior scientific programmer improved ...
Alejandro Luque 
During a 3-year post-doc at CWI, he reimplemented the original codebase of ARCoS porting it from FORTRAN to C. He also implemented photo-ionization and parallelized and extended the code to 3D by means of Fast Fourier Transforms.
Carolynne Montijn 
In her PhD Thesis Evolution of Negative Streamers in Nitrogen: a Numerical Investigation on Adaptive Grids (2005), she implemented the main discretization and refinement algorithms for a fluid model of pure Nitrogen.
Jeroen Wackers 
Developed a scheme to solve the Poisson equation in adaptively refined Cartesian grids.
Gideon Wormeester 
In his thesis Propagation mechanisms of positive streamers in different gases, (Expected Doctoral degree 27-08-2013); TU Eindhoven, Department of Applied Physics; Supervisor: U.M. Ebert, To appear...

Download and Browse

We cannot distribute a working version of ARCoS because it relies on the FISHPACK library and we agreed not to redistribute it. If you want to use the FISHPACK library, fill the FISHPACK order form.

You can download the rest of ARCoS here:

  • Download ARCoS
  • Documentation ARCoS

If you just want to take a look at parts of the source code, you can Browse the source code.

We have not yet written installation instructions for the code. If you are interested in using ARCoS for research purposes, the easiest thing is to contact Alejandro Luque [A _DOT_ Luque _AT_ cwi _DOT_ nl] or any of the other authors.

We distribute ARCoS under a fair use policy: if you use it for your research, we expect that you cite our work.


These papers describe the algorithms used in ARCoS or include results obtained with it.

- The refinement algorithm for the Poisson equation:

  • A nested-grid finite-difference Poisson solver for concentrated source terms, J. Wackers J. Comp. Appl. Math. 180, 1 (2005}

- A comprehensive description of the discretization and refinement algorithms that are implemented in ARCoS:

  • An adaptive grid refinement strategy for the simulation of negative streamers, C. Montijn, W. Hundsdorfer, U. Ebert, J. Comp. Phys. 219, 801-835 (2006), paper.
  • Evolution of negative streamers in nitrogen : a numerical investigation on adaptive grids, Doctoral degree 20-12-2005; TU Eindhoven, Department of Applied Physics; Supervisor: U.M. Ebert, PhD Thesis C. Montijn.

- We introduce a numerical method to speed up the calculation of the photoionisation term in streamer simulations and apply it to the simulation of negative streamers:

  • Photoionisation in negative streamers: fast computations and two propagation modes, A. Luque, U. Ebert, C. Montijn, W. Hundsdorfer, Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 081501 (2007), paper.

- Part of this paper consisted in the use of ARCoS to test a boundary condition for streamers in 2D:

  • Construction and test of a moving boundary model for negative streamer discharges, F. Brau, A. Luque, B. Meulenbroek, U. Ebert, L. Schaefer, Phys. Rev. E 77, 026219 (2008) [10 pages, 7 figures],paper.

- ARCoS was used to show the relationship between streamer discharges and Saffman-Taylor fingers:

  • Saffman-Taylor streamer discharges: a study on interacting streamers, A. Luque, F. Brau, U. Ebert, revised for Phys. Rev. E [6 pages, 6 figures], print.

- We describe the numerical method to simulate streamers in 3D in multi-core machines. This method is then applied to the study of interacting streamers:

  • Interaction of streamers in air and other oxygen-nitrogen mixtures, A. Luque, U. Ebert, and W. Hundsdorfer, revised for Phys. Rev. Lett. [4 pages, 4 figures], print.