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Home > News Room > NEC's "Earth Simulator" Succeeds in a First-of-its-Kind Simulation for Carbon Nanotubes

NEC's "Earth Simulator" Succeeds in the World's First Simulation-based Prediction of Photochemical Reactions inside Carbon Nanotubes

*** For immediate use December 27, 2010

Tokyo, December 27, 2010 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today that it succeeded in the world's first simulation-based prediction of laser-induced photochemical reactions that can efficiently eject a hydrogen atom from a hydrogen chloride molecule trapped inside a carbon nanotube (*1). The simulation was conducted on the "Earth Simulator," (*2) which NEC deployed for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (President: Yasuhiro Kato; JAMSTEC), an independent administrative organization.

These results are expected to pave the way for the quantity synthesis of not only hydrogen, but also inexpensive materials through the facilitation of known photochemical reactions due to the laser pulse irradiation, as well as the development of new materials.

Results were published online on December 7 by the Physical Review Letters, a prestigious academic journal of the American Institute of Physics.

The Earth Simulator topped the HPC Challenge Award for Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) (*3) performance at the SC10 supercomputing conference held in the United States in November 2010. The Earth Simulator demonstrated the world's top-level computing efficiency, especially for complicated applications, including nanoscience, quest for new materials and weather prediction.

The FFT dominates almost half of the processing in the application software used for this research. The Earth Simulator significantly reduced the computing time needed for laser pulse irradiation; taking just two days in contrast to the several months required by conventional supercomputers. As a result, it is now possible to determine the optimum laser intensity in a realistic timeframe with a series of simulations for variable laser intensities.

This research was carried out under a collaborative research contract with JAMSTEC titled "Large-scale Simulation of Characteristics of Carbon Nanotubes."

The application fields of the Earth Simulator, with its outstanding sustained performance, span a wide range of areas. For example, it contributes to more accurate climate change projections and the comprehensive understanding of environmental issues, such as the assessment of the effects of global warming for the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as prevention and mitigation of natural disasters through high-resolution simulations of earthquakes and seismic surges. Moreover, the Earth Simulator is utilized heavily in tackling energy issues and developing new materials by leveraging cooperative relations with industry partners.

Looking forward, NEC aims to support leading-edge research and development capitalizing on advanced supercomputers, such as the Earth Simulator, with superior HPC technologies.


*1) Carbon nanotube

A carbon nanotube is the fifth solid-state carbon material, found in 1991 by Dr. Sumio Iijima, currently NEC's Senior Research Fellow, after diamond, non-crystalline, graphite and fullerene structures with the elucidation of its spiral structure in 1993. Carbon nanotubes have a very minute tube-like structure with a diameter of one-billionth of a meter as a rolled-up graphite sheet. The electrical, mechanical and chemical characteristics of carbon nanotubes differ depending on their type of spiral, thickness and state of edge. Carbon nanotubes represent a material that offers great potential as a new generation of nanodevices, thus drawing widespread international attention.

*2) Earth Simulator

The Earth Simulator is a parallel vector computing system that was launched in March 2002 at JAMSTEC. The renewed Earth Simulator put into operational use in March 2009 consists of 160 nodes of the SX-9/E system with the theoretical peak performance of 131TFLOPS, which also boasts the world fastest CPU core of 102.4GFLOPS.

FLOPS: Number of floating-point calculations that can be carried out per second

One TERAFLOP is a floating-point calculation speed based on 1 trillion occurrences every second. In the same way, one GIGAFLOP means 1 billion occurrences.

*3) HPC Challenge Award, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)

The HPC Challenge Awards are designed to evaluate four key measures that represent frequently used numerical operation patterns in scientific computing. Among them, the FFT is widely utilized in such areas as scientific computing, signal analysis and multimedia processing.

The core of the HPC Challenge Awards Competition is the HPC Challenge benchmark suite ( developed under the US DARPA HPCS program. It is comprised of a set of performance indexes aimed at comprehensively evaluating the performance of HPC architectures, such as the data transfer rate between CPU and memory and intra-CPU network speed, as well as computing speed, which augments the popular TOP500 list based on the Linpack benchmark for solving simultaneous linear equations.

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Joseph Jasper
NEC Corporation

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