Built by NNSA for stockpile stewardship experiments, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s largest and most energetic laser, provided a wealth of programmatically important scientific data in 2015. Six weeks before fiscal year’s end, NIF achieved its targeted goal of 300 shots, a substantial increase from the 191 shots conducted in FY14. These shots yielded important information on long-standing questions for the Stockpile Stewardship Program about equations of state, weapons effects, dynamics of materials, and more. FY15 also saw the successful introduction of plutonium shots at NIF, each producing program-relevant data, as well as the implementation of powerful new diagnostic capabilities, including a dilation X-ray imager (DIXI) that gives a time lapsed view of x-rays from an imploding capsule with 10-picosecond resolution. NIF conducted a total of 356 shots for FY15, including 44 shots supporting Discovery Science experiments, and has set a goal of 400 shots for FY16. [read more]
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) confirmed that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and international collaborators have officially discovered elements 115, 117 and 118. LLNL teamed with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia in 2004 to discover elements 113 and 115. LLNL worked again with JINR in 2006 to discover element 118. The Lab team then jointly worked with researchers from the Research Institute for Advanced Reactors (Dimitrovgrad), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to discover element 117 in 2010. [read more] Many of the same LLNL researchers were part of an international team that also discovered five new atomic nuclei, isotopes of uranium, neptunium, americium, and berkelium: 216U, 219Np, 223Am, 229Am and 233Bk. The fast and sensitive separation and detection techniques applied in these experiments promise the synthesis of additional new isotopes in the heaviest nuclei region of the periodic table. [read more]
Lawrence Livermore researchers were recipients of three awards among the top 100 industrial inventions worldwide for 2014. The trade journal R&D magazine announced the winners of its annual awards in 2015 at a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada. With this year’s results, the Laboratory has now captured a total of 155 R&D awards since 1978. This year’s winners are the Large-Area Projection Micro-Stereolithography (LAPμSL), a three-dimensional printing device; Zero-order Reaction Kinetics, a computing code; and the High-power Intelligent Laser Diode System (HILADS). Two of LLNL’s three R&D 100 award-winning technologies—LAPμSL and HILADS—received internal “seed money” from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program. This funding enables the undertaking of high-risk, potentially high-payoff projects at the forefront of science and technology. [read more]
LLNL played a lead role in the successful execution of Source Physics Experiment 4 (SPE-4) Prime at the Nevada National Security Site in May 2015. SPE-4 Prime is one of a series of underground, high-explosive field tests in hard rock that are designed to improve the United States’ ability to detect and identify low-yield nuclear explosions amid the clutter of conventional explosions and small earthquakes. [read more] The LLNL team was responsible for the design of the canister that contained the explosive charge and for the timing and firing of the shot, which resulted in the collection of new data that included high-resolution accelerometer, infrasound, seismic, explosive performance, ground-based LIDAR (light detection and ranging), ground-based hyperspectral imagery, and satellite data. The SPE tests represent a U.S.-interagency-wide endeavor, with NNSA’s NNSS; LANL, LLNL, and Sandia national laboratories; and the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency serving as partners.
A team of LLNL and National Security Technologies researchers completed a series of experiments to measure the properties of plutonium at high pressure and temperature to unprecedented accuracy using strong shock waves on the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research Facility (JASPER). JASPER’s 20-meter-long, two-stage gas gun fires projectiles the size and weight of an ice cube at up to 8 kilometers per second into precisely engineered targets about the size of a quarter. JASPER has been a key scientific tool for NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program since 2001, enabling LLNL scientists to understand important properties and behaviors of plutonium and other special nuclear materials without conducting underground nuclear tests. [read more]
Through the Collaboration of Argonne, Oak Ridge and Livermore national laboratories (CORAL), NNSA and the DOE Office of Science are partnering to develop the next generation of supercomputers. This partnership was recognized with an HPCWire Editor’s Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration between Government and Industry. Working with IBM, LLNL will deploy Sierra, a 120+ petaflops advanced technology system in the 2018 timeframe. In FY15 LLNL led the tri-lab procurement of Commodity Technology Systems (CTS-1), which will bring petaflop computing clusters to Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories for stockpile stewardship work. [read more] LLNL also led the launch of HPC for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) in FY15, aimed at uniting the world-class computing resources and expertise of Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories with the U.S. manufacturing industry. [read more] Livermore’s Sequoia supercomputer and LLNL technical assistance was used by a University of Texas-led team to complete an Earth mantle convection simulation that won the 2015 Gordon Bell Prize. [read more]
Over the past few years, additive manufacturing (AM) has grown into one of the most active areas of research and development in the field of materials science. The Lab is leading the way toward discovering and developing new areas where AM can make important contributions to the missions of NNSA and our other national security sponsors. For example, this year LLNL demonstrated AM of 21Cr–6Ni–9Mn austenitic stainless steel for the first time. Additional “firsts” for LLNL include 3D printing of graphene aerogel microlattices, [read more] 3D printing of self-assembling blood vessels, [read more] and 3D printing of reactive materials resulting in better control over energy release rates. [read more] LLNL also initiated new industrial partnerships for AM, beginning work with General Electric on software that will improve AM of metal parts [read more] and teaming with San Rafael-based Autodesk Inc. to explore how design software can accelerate innovation in 3D printing of advanced materials. [read more]
LLNL’s sustained record of bioengineering innovations using micro and nanotechnology, together with unique LLNL expertise, facilities, and capabilities, led the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to select Lawrence Livermore and its collaborators to build the world’s first neural system to enable naturalistic feeling and movements in prosthetic hands. Known as Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX), the program seeks to provide wounded service members with dexterous control over advanced prosthetic devices that substitute for amputated hands. LLLNL’s Neural Tech Group and their collaborators (Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center) are working to develop neural interface systems that measure and decode motor signals recorded in peripheral nerves and muscles in the forearm by using tiny electrodes. [read more]
In 2015, Lawrence Livermore researchers continued a longstanding tradition of making groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of space and planetary phenomena. This continues with the Lab’s long history of seminal contributions to space science, from the first computer simulations of supernova hydrodynamics to the discovery of galactic dark matter. This year, Lawrence Livermore researchers were part of an international team that discovered the most Jupiter-like planet ever seen in a young star system, providing new clues to understanding how planets formed around our own sun. The observation was made with the Gemini Planet Imager in Chile, a Livermore-designed and built instrument that uses advanced adaptive optics. [read more] In other space and planetary research, LLNL scientists and their colleagues used Sandia National Laboratory’s Z-Machine to determine that significant amounts of iron vapor would be produced by collisions during the formation of the Earth and other planets, changing estimates for the timing of when Earth’s core was formed—this work was selected as one of Discover magazine’s top 100 stories of 2015. [read more]
A team of LLNL scientists, along with colleagues from Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed a new microcapsule technology for carbon capture, which consist of a highly permeable polymer shell and a fluid (made up of sodium carbonate solution) that reacts with and absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2). Sodium carbonate is typically known as the main ingredient in baking soda. The aim of carbon capture is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2—a greenhouse gas that traps heat and makes the planet warmer—into the atmosphere from fossil fuel use in power generation and other industries. [read more] The new technology can be tailored to work with coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, as well as in industrial processes like steel and cement production. This work was supported by the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).