Determining cross sections from transport coefficients using deep neural networks

P. W. Stokes, D. G. Cocks, M. J. Brunger, R. D. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We present a neural network for the solution of the inverse swarm problem of deriving cross sections from swarm transport data. To account for the uncertainty inherent to this somewhat ill-posed inverse problem, we train the neural network using cross sections from the LXCat project, paired with associated transport coefficients found by the numerical solution of Boltzmann's equation. The use of experimentally measured and theoretically calculated cross sections for training encourages the network to avoid unphysical solutions, such as those containing spurious energy-dependent oscillations. We successfully apply this machine learning approach to simulated swarm data for electron transport in helium, separately determining its elastic momentum transfer and ionisation cross sections to within an accuracy of 4% over the range of energies considered. Our attempt to extend our method to argon was less successful, although the reason for that observation is well-understood. Finally, we explore the feasibility of simultaneously determining cross sections of helium using this approach. We have some success here, determining elastic, total n = 2 excitation and ionisation cross sections to 10%, 20% and 25% accuracy, respectively. We are unsuccessful in properly unfolding the separate n = 2 singlet and triplet excitation cross sections of helium, but this is as expected given their similar threshold energies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number055009
Number of pages9
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Boltzmann equation
  • inverse problem
  • machine learning
  • swarm analysis


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