Finite element analysis: computer simulation software

Fluid dynamics and mass transport

Comsol can be used to solve the Navier-Stokes equation for an arbitrary flow geometry. Here is a quick tutorial how to model water flowing between two planes.

  • Open a new fluid mechanics modeling environment.
  • Draw a rectangle with the rectangle tool.
  • Find the drop down menus that let you edit the attributes of an element.
  • Set the material inside the box to be water (viscosity, density etc.)
  • Each side of the rectangle (1, 2, 3, 4) can be changed to a different B.C., e.g. inlet with velocity = 1, no-slip wall etc, outlet etc.
  • Click on the “mesh” shortcut button - the program draws a mesh.
  • Click on the “solve” shortcut button (looks like = sign). You will see a colorful image of the velocity field.
  • Click on the line tool and make a cross section of the velocity field. It should be a parabola. Measure the dv/dx at the boundary.


Comsol will also do electrostatics calculations. For example, plot the lines of equipotential for a typical CNT transistor geometry.

Comsol licensing

The physics department has a server running comsol. (Terminals in the computer lab on the forth floor). It is possible to buy a license for $1500 for the first year and then a $300 upgrade/support fee for subsequent years. The north-west sales rep is 650-324-9935.

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