SUBJECT: The Ion Trap

DESCRIPTION: The Ion Trap simulates the interaction of charged particles in a potential well. The particles interact via the classical Coulomb force, as well as the repulsive quantum-mechanical Pauli force , which acts at close distances (accounting for the "collisions" between them). The potential well is given by a force directed radially inward that is proportional to the distance from the origin. In addition, the motion of the particles is damped by a term proportional to velocity, which allows them to "settle down" into stable and meta-stable states.

Moving in response to these forces, the particles will eventually end up in a configuration of minimum potential, where the net force on any given particle is essentially zero. Interestingly, these configurations are often highly symmetrical, and for any given combination of particles there are often several different stable (or meta-stable) configurations. Press "s" to illustrate these symmetries by generating a surface based on the positions of the particles!

VISUALIZATION: Fullscreen Version