2015 Research Report

For more than 25 years, Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) has nurtured its users with a powerful resource for accelerating discovery. The research featured on these pages provides a small snapshot of some of Ohio’s most innovative, and potentially life-changing, studies.

Friendly OSC staff members

The Ohio Supercomputer Center strives to propel Ohio’s economy, from academic researchers to industrial partners. To that end, Ohio possesses one of the most potent combinations of statewide cyberinfrastructure elements in the world: high-end supercomputing, research leadership and innovative workforce education programs.

Car simulation

Small and mid-sized manufacturers are under constant economic pressure to deliver high-quality, low-cost products. Many large manufacturers have embraced simulation-driven design to achieve a higher degree of competitive advantage.

The Ohio State University Driving Simulation Laboratory

The Ohio Supercomputer Center’s Virtual Environments and Simulation Group involve an interdisciplinary team of research scientists, computer scientists and clinicians.

The team, which includes colleagues who have been working together for more than two decades, applies high performance computing and advanced interface technology to virtually explore complex computational data.

O-H-I-O in a laboratory

OSC has earned a national reputation for exceptional training and education programs.

By Pankaj Shah, Executive Director, OSC and OARnet

In 2014, Ohio Supercomputer Center clients at Ohio’s public research universities accounted for $146 million—or nearly 19 percent—of the $780 million in active-award funding awarded to those universities from three of the largest federal research-funding agencies.

Since the center’s creation in 1987, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) has worked to propel Ohio’s economy, from academic discoveries to industrial innovation. The Center provides researchers with high-end supercomputing and storage, domain-specific programming expertise and middle school-to-college-to-workforce education and training.

Supercomputers are powerful, yes. But they are only as powerful as the codes researchers write for them. Brian Guilfoos, HPC client services manager at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, understands that high performance computing isn’t always intuitive and that education and training are essential services.

User Training

The Web and Interface Applications Group controls the way in which OSC HPC clients access and use most OSC systems.

When the Ohio Supercomputer Center was established through a state operating budget bill in 1987, it was “intended that the center be made accessible to private industry as appropriate.” Later that year, the Ohio Board of Regents created the Center “as a statewide resource designed to place Ohio’s research universities and private industry in the forefront of computational research.” Making thi

Here at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, we take great pride in providing powerful resources to help accelerate discovery.
The raw data tells part of our story: In 2013, the Ohio Supercomputer Center delivered more than 82 million CPU core-hours, for more than 3.3 million jobs. But behind these numbers lies the rest of our story: OSC exists to enable science.

Since the creation of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) in 1987, the center’s staff has provided the critical services that allow Ohio researchers, professors and students to achieve great new levels of success, from empowering amazing scientific discoveries to partnering on remarkable industrial innovations.

When we think of supercomputing resources, we automatically think of processors and petaflops. However, compute capacity is only one part of the equation; software is another important component.

Virtual environments, once seen only as a unique extension of gaming technology, now are considered essential tools for competitiveness, from healthcare to education to manufacturing. The Ohio Supercomputer Center’s Virtual Environments and Simulation Group use this technology to create rich, precise, interactive simulations for training, assessment and remote collaborations.

Client Services is the entry point for our user community. We provide the connections to the services that OSC offers its clients, and we do that in a number of ways. We manage the administrative functions associated with research done here. We also provide the technical support through a recently expanded 24/7 help desk.

With the April dedication of OSC’s newest cluster, the Ohio Supercomputer Center currently is offering researchers three mid-sized high performance computing (HPC) systems: the HP/Intel Xeon Phi Ruby Cluster, the HP/Intel Xeon Oakley Cluster and the IBM/AMD Opteron Glenn Cluster.

While virtual environments often are associated with gaming and entertainment, OSC’s Interface Lab has translated the technology into effective training and assessment tools for use by various sectors such as the health care, automotive and manufacturing industries. 

Karen Tomko understands the challenges software developers face, having worked directly on development teams in the past. One of the main barriers is finding ways to make sure the applications that get developed are available and working in a given system. 

For those intimidated by the thought of “talking” with supercomputers, Basil Gohar wants to help. As the manager of the Web and Interface Applications group, Gohar and his team have a big goal in mind: Deliver the benefits of powerful computing to users without perceived or actual complexities.

It’s staggering to consider the myriad ways in which the Ohio Supercomputer Center and the AweSim industrial engagement program benefit a wide array of industries. It is also hard to conceive how few leaders in these industries know what they could be gaining from the innovative cloud-based simulation application platform. 

Since the first meeting of the Statewide Users Group (SUG) in November 1986—almost a full year before the official 1987 establishment of the Ohio Supercomputer Center by the Ohio Board of Regents (now the Ohio Department of Higher Education)—Ohio research practitioner-advisors have been providing OSC’s leadership with sage program and policy advice.

OSC advanced materials research icon Advanced Materials

Simulation of cracking concrete slabs

Most American highways are constructed as a Portland cement concrete (PCC) slabs that are poured and finished on a layered roadbed. Such pavement structures are subjected to millions of applications of traffic wheel-loads, as well as numerous cycles of temperature and moisture variations, and eventually succumb to cracking. 

The amorphous silica nanochannel (red and yellow) confining a stream (red and white) of electrolyte-water solution

Microdevices, such as Labs-On-a-Chip (LOC) systems, are used for biomolecular detection and custom chemical synthesis, among other applications. Over the last decade, LOC systems have evolved from a single channel to systems capable of integrating thousands of reaction vessels, conduits and valves. 

Simulation of two vesicles in equilibrium with surfactant molecules in solution

Liquid crystals are at the heart of the technology inside most computer, tablet and smartphone displays today, and researchers are finding more applications for liquid crystals every day – in fields, such as advanced photonics, sensors, bio- and medical molecular devices, and smart materials for new energy applications. 

Simulation of inter-atomic potentials

Developing new materials and engineering their novel properties have been the driving forces behind many revolutionary modern technologies. The emerging capabilities in predictive modeling and simulation have created an opportunity to implement the “materials-by-design” paradigm.

Simulation of colloidal suspensions

Colloidal suspension is the term for a substance that is microscopically dispersed throughout another substance and is found in many every day products – food, cosmetics, drugs.

The compelling need for energy efficiency in the transportation industry provides a strong motivation for the increased use of lightweight engineering materials  such as titanium and magnesium alloys that will lead to weight reduction. 

In 1978, the Food and Drug Administration approved cisplatin, a platinum-based compound, for clinical use. Cisplatin today is widely recognized as an effective cancer-treating drug, but it also is known to cause many severe side effects, such as kidney damage, nervous system impairment, nausea and vomiting.

The quest to understand the fundamental building blocks of nature and their interactions is one of the longest-running and most ambitious of human endeavors.

Just one decade ago, researchers first isolated graphene, a carbon film only one atom thick – essentially a semi-metallic material so thin that it presents only two measurable dimensions, length and width.

Phonons — the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound — have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study conducted by a research group from The Ohio State University and supported by the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

Scientists at the University of Akron, in collaboration with partners at UCLA, are investigating the unique properties of metal alloy nanostructures – materials measuring 1-1000 nanometers in length – that have potential applications in the manufacture of fuel cells, batteries, automotive catalysts, sensors and nanoeletronic devices.

A research group at Ohio University has been studying the physics of chemical elements in the oxygen family that lack a crystalline structure, elements known as amorphous chalcogenide materials.

Several years ago, a Physics World article posed the question, “Why would anyone still want to study a physical phenomenon that was discovered in the 1930s, explained in the 1960s and has been the subject of numerous reviews since the 1970s?”

OSC biological sciences research icon Biological Sciences

Distribution of binding sites for several transcription factors (TFs 1- 6) in the genome of maize

Erich Grotewold, a professor of molecular genetics and horticulture and crop science at The Ohio State University, is leveraging the resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center as part of his studies to address fundamentally important questions in plant research.

computational chemistry image

At the Ohio State Center for Catalytic Bioscavenger Medical Defense Research II, chemists Thomas J. Magliery and Christopher M. Hadad lead a team that employs sophisticated methods of protein engineering, high-throughput screening and computational chemistry.

Illustration of genetic markers flow chart.

As one of the most common childhood learning disabilities, specific language impairment – a delay in mastering language skills, despite normal hearing, education and intelligence – affects about 5 to 7 percent of all kindergartners. 

Red blood cells

Malaria affected 219 million people around the globe in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. This life-threatening disease, caused by plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, killed about 660,000 people in 2010 – mostly African children under the age of five.

Illustration of ight and dark bands across the axis of the fibril.

By investigating the mechanisms of bone formation, researchers at the University of Akron may help develop treatments for bone-related diseases such as osteomalacia, more commonly known as rickets, and osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder in which bones break easily.

Keith Marsolo and his team are developing novel techniques that could be used to more quickly identify patients whose bodies no longer respond to standard-use antibiotics. Sick children at CCHMC can develop this resistance after the many rounds of different antibiotics they receive to ward off infections from their weakened immune systems. 

Plexins receive guidance cues from other proteins and transmit signals through the lipid membrane, regulating cell migration and targeting processes. However, if a signal is not transmitted correctly through plexin, studies have shown that this could result in serious neurological disorders.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes about 610,000 cases of cancer worldwide, accounting for about 5 percent of all cancer cases and including virtually all cases of cervical cancer. Scientists have long known that certain types of HPV cause cancer, but they don’t completely understand all the steps that are involved.

A recent study into the biomechanics of the necks of ants – which can amazingly lift objects up to 1,000 times heavier than its body – might unlock one of nature’s little mysteries and, quite possibly, open the door to advancements in robotic engineering.

The oldest forms of life on Earth, bacteria and archaea, have managed to evolve and adapt to Earth’s changing environment over billions of years. As a result, bacteria and archaea could hold the answers to the persistence of complex life.

Fifty years after the surgeon general first reported on the harmful effects of tobacco, medical professionals continue to find more links between smoking and disease.

Recent research suggests that long-standing methods for calculating the thermodynamics of ion hydration, while robust, are ambiguous regarding the inclusion of water’s surface potential.

The powerful slogan of  The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute is a testament to the recent paradigm shift in the field of oncology. For years, a patient’s cancer and treatment were characterized by location and stage. Now, researchers such as those in Dr.

OSC enery and the environment research icon Energy and the Environment

Simulation depicting the effect of impinging and reflecting shocks on coherent structures in the boundary layer

The interactions between shock waves from supersonic aerospace vehicles and the airflow immediately adjacent to their exterior surfaces, referred to as shock boundary layer interactions, can have significant effects on the design and performance of wings, control surfaces and propulsion systems.

Optimized structures of reduction of carbon dioxide to alcohol

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is considered an atmospheric trace element, yet also is recognized as a greenhouse gas that has increased significantly since the advent of industrialization.

Total pressure loss comparisons downstream of the trailing edge in an airfoil passage

The flow in the endwall region of a compressor or turbine airfoil passage contains a complex system of vortices, which interact with each other and produce undesirable effects, including the disruption of cooling flows and the generation of aerodynamic losses.

A chart showing complementarity of cosmic rays and neutrinos

The earth and other celestial bodies are continually bombarded by extremely fast-moving, subatomic particles known as cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos.

Simulation of a possible unit cell of monodentate urea adsorption on Ni(1 0 0)

Coal is currently the largest source of electricity generation in the United States, while gasoline and diesel fuel power most vehicles. However, coal, gasoline and diesel fuel are non-renewable resources, and the combustion of these fossil fuels produces various pollutants. As a result, alternative, non-polluting energy sources such as hydrogen are desirable.

The Department of Energy supports pilot projects and basic research that evaluate the feasibility of capturing carbon dioxide created by industrial processes and power plants and injecting it into deep geologic formations for permanent storage, known as geo-sequestration.  This is part of evaluating strategies for reducing atmospheric emissions and mitigating accumulation of greenhouse gasses. 

Researchers who normally use high-resolution satellite imagery to study glaciers used their technology to help with disaster relief and longer-term stabilization planning efforts in Nepal.

Biofuels, fuels derived from plant materials, have the potential to reduce the United State’s dependency on fossil-based fuels. Brent Sohngen, professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at The Ohio State University, and his colleagues have developed a series of land use and management models that assess, among many issues, the impact of using forests for biofuel.

Using the computing power at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, researchers at The Ohio State University are constructing a first-of-its-kind, time-stamped, high-resolution digital surface model of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

A team of field ecologists has concluded that woodland corridors connecting patches of endangered plants not only increase dispersal of seeds from one patch to another, but also create wind conditions that can spread the seeds for much longer distances.

Water, water everywhere, but it’s all locked underground. Wendy Panero, Ph.D., and The Ohio State University Mineral Physics Research Group have found that minerals within the earth’s mantle potentially contain a vast amount of water.

With more than 120 terawatts of solar power irradiating the earth, photovoltaics offers the promise of essentially limitless energy for powering society. The reality, though, depends on whether the cost of the technology can be made competitive with more traditional carbon-based sources.

Compared to its centuries-old fossil fuel counterparts, nuclear power is a young player in today’s lineup of energy sources. Still, since the world’s first nuclear power plant became operational in 1954, there have been three marked advancement periods, or generations, of nuclear technology. Each new generation has improved upon the current safety and performance of the previous generation.

OSC industrial engagement icon Industrial Engagement

Model of thermal energy transfer from full, printed circuit boards

Demand for electronic devices of increasingly smaller sizes and with substantially improved processor and graphics functionality has resulted in higher-density power requirements. Consequently, significant increases in heat generated are being registered at the component, board and system levels.

Screen shot of a TotalSim simulation application.

A research team recently sought to transform how professionals and students make and learn about advanced manufacturing components through a “simulation-as-a-service” app based on cloud resources and software access. Their application allows users to remotely access software and compute resources using a virtual desktop-as-a-service system for advanced manufacturing processes. 

Fuel cells

Since the early 1990s, the promise of fuel cells has been onsite power generation with the same round-the-clock availability that has long been the exclusive province of the electric utility industry, but without the cumbersome distribution grid. Engineers at Technology Management, Inc.

Plastic container simulation

KLW Plastics, a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of containers, recently partnered with Kinetic Vision and the Ohio Supercomputer Center to evaluate the effectiveness of advanced modeling and simulation technologies to optimize its container products by lightening their weight, while maintaining the required strength.

Fan simulation

Despite the broad reach and the growth in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools and methods over the past two decades, the ability to access this technology remains outside the reach of many small and medium manufacturers (SMM) – the so-called “missing middle.” 

A $5 million gift from Honda R&D Americas Inc. prompted the April 2015 launch of a center for virtual simulation and modeling of product performance and manufacturing processes in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University.

Aviation industry manufacturers have traditionally relied upon conventional metals and alloys for constructing internal engine parts. During operation, these engines can generate sufficient heat to raise temperatures to within 50 degrees of the melting point of the nickel-based superalloys, titanium, aluminum and steel used in engine construction.

High-temperature, solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are efficient electrochemical devices that produce electrical power from hydrocarbon fuels. SOFCs have received increasing attention in recent years as a clean and efficient power source for use in distributed power-generation applications.

The Procter & Gamble Company, also known as P&G, is an Ohio-based multinational consumer goods company with manufacturing operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. P&G markets a wide range of products, including cleaning agents and personal care products.

Drive a car not originally built for racing around an oval track at about 200 miles per hour for a couple of hours and you should begin to understand why stock car drivers would want the latest and greatest information on things, such as how their car will handle in close traffic on a banked curve.

As one of North America’s largest manufacturers of rigid metal and plastic containers, BWAY Corporation is a global market leader in packaging solutions for large and small manufacturers and container distributors. Traditionally, the company’s engineers and designers have relied on outsourcing the analysis and simulation of new product designs.

In the five years since inception, Rescale is making waves in the cloud-computing world.

The use of virtual design in the fabrication of large structures has enjoyed significant success in the heavy materials industry for almost two decades. Industries that have used virtual design and analysis tools have reduced material parts size, developed environmentally friendly fabrication processes, improved product quality and performance and reduced manufacturing costs.

OSC research landscape Research Landscape

Computer cluster

Modern high performance computing systems allow scientists and engineers to tackle grand challenge problems in numerous fields, such as astrophysics, earthquake analysis, weather prediction, nanoscience modeling and biological computations. In concert with the many use cases, the field of computer architecture, interconnection networks and system design is undergoing rapid change.

A group of university students

In a social group, some information is shared by everyone and other information is known only to some members. For example, when analyzing the interactions of college students’ academic performance, it is not likely that a student knows the IQ and/or SAT scores of all the other students in the class.

Comparison of real and synthetic intersection

Object recognition is an important problem that has many applications that are of interest to the Air Force. Object recognition is a key enabler to autonomous exploitation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data, which can make the automatic searching of millions of hours of video practical.

Ohio State University’s 400 Terawatt Scarlet laser

A new generation of powerful lasers has recently become operational, like the 400 Terawatt Scarlet laser at The Ohio State University (a Terawatt is equal to one trillion watts). These lasers can drive matter to extreme temperatures and densities, applying pressures well over a billion atmospheres. 

Professor Giorgio Rizzoni, graduate student Casie Clark and the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3

The Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 (VBB3) is a streamlined electric land-speed race car designed and assembled by undergraduate and graduate students at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (OSU CAR).

To begin understanding dark matter in astrophysics, one must first step into a world where galaxies are considered small. The is the world that Annika Peter, Ph.D., and graduate student Stacy Kim are discovering more fully at The Ohio State University’s Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics.

Understanding the different categories of normal facial expressions of human emotion is essential for scientists and doctors in order to gain insights into human cognition and affect, as well as for the design of computational models and perceptual interfaces.

For all the different moving parts that go into mechanical engineering systems, the gas turbine is a relatively simple design: a large rotor fitted with vanes is made to revolve by a fast-moving gas flow.

In most of the standard equilibrium models used to explain equity market performance, the volatility of stock market returns is far too low. This muted volatility is closely related to the equity premium puzzle, a phenomenon whereby returns on “risky” stocks are historically much higher and more volatile than returns on “safer” government bonds.

The analysis of biological and social networks has become increasingly important in recent years. Inferential and predictive statistical models that analyze networks have been put to use in such areas as epidemiology, public health, molecular biology and the social sciences.

A researcher at the University of Cincinnati is leveraging the compute and storage resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center to simulate the behavior of elusive cosmic particles. The research team is studying the behavior and nature of neutrinos and the particles’ role in the balance between matter and antimatter.

The noise from jet-engine exhausts can cause substantial hearing loss for crewmen and airport personnel and activate restrictive regulations and/or fees for airlines. The large turbulent eddies within the jet plume—also known as large-scale coherent structures—produce the majority of the noise in the aft angles of the engine.

Machine-based speech separation, often referred to as “the cocktail party problem,” refers to the problem of using computers and other devices to separate target speech from interference caused by background noise.