General Software

Autodesk Fusion 360

An exceptionally powerful CAD software, and is not only one of the best free software packages I have come across for engineering applications, but is by far my favorite CAD software to use. It is extremely powerful and versatile, and is very easy and intuitive to learn. All CAD work and modeling presented on Applied Ion Systems is done through Fusion 360, including the main CAD renders, drawing sheets, and thermal simulations. It includes many advanced features, such as thermal simulation, mechanical simulation, sculpting, 3D printing STL file export capabilities, CNC file export generation, photo-realistic rendering, and a host of other great CAD capabilities. I would highly recommend to look into downloading and using this, for any hobbyist or professional engineer. Fusion 360 is free for individuals and hobbyists making less than $100k per year using this software for products.



MegunoLink is a relatively new piece of software that has become available recently, but has already proven to be a very powerful and versatile tool. MegunoLink allows for bidirectional control and communication with microcontrollers such as Arduino, and allows the user to build quite complex monitoring and control interfaces very easily. Graphing, gauges, buttons, sliders, and other tools are readily available for creating versatile and powerful interfaces and functionality, with a large range of customization. I have used this software to set up data logging very quickly for preliminary system testing and debugging, and am using the software to develop the control and monitoring interfaces for rather complex control systems for the numerous projects currently in development at Applied Ion Systems. The code and library is very easy to implement, and can get a project going with control and monitoring up in minutes. MegunoLink is not free (currently being offered for $50.00), however there are discounts available, and the program has already proven itself well worth the investment. I plan on using this software more for my Arduino projects that I work on now going forward for creating user interfaces. Customer and technical support is also fantastic, and has made learning the program much easier. Since the software is still relatively new, there are some occasional bugs, but the software is undergoing constant updates, with new features being added to expand its already impressive capabilities. MegunoLink offers itself as a great low cost alternative for enhancing Arduino projects and adding control and monitoring capabilities, compared with more traditional and expensive data acquisition and control equipment such as LabView, or less versatile free alternatives on the market.


Physics Simulation Software

SRIM (The Stopping Range of Ions in Matter)

SRIM package is an incredibly powerful simulator that allows for the simulation of the interactions of ions with matter, and the original code has been around for decades and utilized in countless academic papers and referenced in textbooks. The package comes with several tools, such as SRIM, SR, and TRIM. Unlike some of the other free physics simulation software packages, SRIM comes with a full user interface. It allows for the simulation of some incredibly advanced materials interactions quite simply, and can allow you to simulate phenomena such as sputtering, ion implantation, doping, ion damage from bombardment, as well as devices that work with ion beams, such as ionization chambers for radiation detection. It includes a library of most elements to choose from for interacting materials, as well as a whole host of compounds, and even allows for simulation of ions through biological tissue, and can model various tissues and organs as well. There are two versions out currently: SRIM-2008 and SRIM 2013. SRIM-2013 is the most up to date package, and has more capabilities. In addition, the package allows the user to do even more advanced modeling through the use of custom input files run through the TRIM functionality, which is the main functionality of the package. Several advanced simulations are explored and presented on Applied Ion Systems utilizing more advanced features of the TRIM functionality.


CASINO (Monte Carlo Simulation of Electron Trajectories in Solids)

CASINO is geared towards the simulation of electron beams through matter, specifically in the use of scanning electron microscopes. This also has a user interface, and is similar to SRIM in its power and capabilities, except for electrons instead of ions. It comes in two versions so far: 2.51 and 3.3. I would recommend downloading both versions. 2.51 is simpler to use while still having a lot of capabilities in simulating electron beams through targets. CASINO 3.3 is a full blown package with 3D target simulation and even more power and complexity. It allows the user to simulate and predict what the SEM images and signals will be observed based on the electron beam and target parameters. However, CASINO only allows for accurate modeling of low energy electron beams in the range of 0.1 to 30 KeV. CASINO also has the ability to simulate signals from X-rays and backscattered electrons due to the main electron beam interactions with the target material.


EISS3 (Electron Beam Monte Carlo Simulator)

EISS3 is a very simplified, basic simulating software for simulating the trajectory of electrons through matter. Not nearly as powerful or complex as CASINO, but can be used for very rough and quick estimates for simple electron beams in matter.



Another electron-in-matter simulator. Unlike CASINO or EISS3, ESTAR is not a downloadable package, but an online simulator provided by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology.) This software allows one to calculate stopping power, density effect parameters, range, and radiation yield tables for electrons in various materials. Unlike the other electron simulators, ESTAR can support very high energy electron inputs, at levels seen at high energy particle accelerator facilities. Energy range varies from 0.001 MeV to 10000 MeV. The data generated is not particle tracking through the target, but rather tables and charts for the various simulation results for the electron interacting with the target.


FEMM (Finite Element Method Magnetics)

FEMM is a free software package that allows for magnetic, electrostatic, and thermal simulation and modelling. This type of software has no user interface, but rather relies on text file inputs for simulation. Documentation is available, and is generally easier to work with than some of the more complex software such as Poisson Superfish.


Poisson Superfish

Poisson Superfish is a very powerful free simulation software for electrostatics, magnetics, and RF applications. It is a software that is based off of text file inputs that are compiled using the tools included in the download, with no user interface. There is some documentation and support, but you will find that simulation software such as this in the physics community, while extremely powerful, are not user friendly. However, it is often used in the accelerator and particle physics fields for simulation.


IBSIMU (Ion Beam Simulator)

IBSIMU is the most complex to setup and utilize properly out of all of the listed simulation programs presented so far. This is not a program itself, but a special library for simulating ion beam optics and extraction from plasmas, coded in C++, and is based off of Linux. It is very challenging to get installed and compile correctly – it requires many external dependencies, and it appears that some modification is required to the paths and directories to get it to work, but if you are very good at coding and Linux you can give it a shot. However, it seems like it is currently the only free software available for simulating particle tracing and ion beam optics for developing ion guns. There are other industry standard tools such as EGUN, IGUN, and SIMION, but these are not cheap or free for the average hobbyist. However, IBSIMU has a lot of features and power, and a key advantage of IBSIMU over other ion optics packages is that it is specifically geared towards simulating the extraction of ion beams from plasmas, as well as has the ability to support negative ion beams. This software has been used to design and simulate ion injector guns at CERN.



Mollow+, short for molecular flow, is an extremely powerful free Monte Carlo simulation code developed at CERN by J.L. Pons, R. Kersevan and M. Ady that is a standard in the accelerator community for high vacuum pumping simulations in the molecular flow regime. The software features a user interface, and can take CAD .STL file inputs. In addition to all of these incredible beneits, Moflow+ has full documentation to help its users get started, which can be quite rare for intensive simulation packages in the physics community. A must have program for anyone serious about high vacuum system engineering and design. All of the vacuum systems developed at Applied Ion Systems will utilize Molflow+ for simulating high vacuum pumping of the systems.



Similar to Molflow+, SynRad+ is a powerful and and free Monte Carlo simulation code developed at CERN by J.L. Pons, R. Kersevan and M. Ady. The program traces photons to calculate the flux and power distribution on a surface as the result of synchrotron radiation. SynRad+ also has a user interface, and file inputs are compatible with Molflow+. SynRad+ also features full documention as well. (info located on the same page as Molflow+ at the bottom)



G4beamline is another extremely powerful and versatile single-particle tracing program. The software is used by many particle physicists and accelerator engineers around the world, and has been used in the design of numerous experiments. The software is optimized for simulating beamlines, including all of the standard accelerator beamline elements such as dipole magnets, quadrupole magnets, RF cavities, absorbers, targets, and more. A wide range of accelerator experiments can be simulated with the program, such as beams, radiation yields, and more. The software can be run on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows machines, and does not require coding to use, although it gives the user the option and flexibility to expand upon and customize it as needed. Tutorials and full documentation are also available for the program as well.



FLUKA is yet another impressively powerful free physics simulation package for simulating a wide range of particle transport and interactions in matter, and can be used in applications ranging from electron to proton accelerators, shielding,activation, calorimetry, dosage, detector design, cosmic rays, radiotherapy, and more. FLUKA has the capability to simulate 60 different types of particles, with energy ranges from 1 keV to 20 TeV. Manuals and documentation are also available for this program. FLUKA however is only available for Linux machines.