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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.” 

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.