Explosives Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory
A world leader in energetic materials research, development and applications, the Explosives Center's unique capabilities enable a dynamic, flexible response to address multiple evolving mission needs.
Nuclear weapons energetic materials science, technology and engineering expertise since 1943
Intensive study and precision use of energetic materials, central to the function of a nuclear weapon and broader national security concerns, began at Los Alamos in 1943 during the Manhattan Project.
Building upon more than 70 years of nuclear weapons energetic materials science, technology and engineering expertise, Los Alamos National Laboratory continues to define the field of energetic materials and their characteristics. The Explosives Center's capabilities include a focus on countering emerging threats such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and supporting the warfighter missions.
Given today's evolving threats, Los Alamos' expertise plays a critical role in effectively assisting the nation’s nuclear weapons experts, intelligence analysts, homeland security assets, emergency response teams and military ground forces in detection, disablement and defeat of a wide variety of energetic materials threats. Los Alamos successes include the production of extremely safe “insensitive” explosives and the publication of the book, Detonation.
The Explosives Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory provides expertise that spans comprehensive explosives development, characterization, testing, modeling and simulation. The Center’s goals are to integrate and advance the Lab’s explosives capabilities for the modern nuclear weapons mission and a range of national security challenges, such as
- Characterizing homemade explosives (see the Picture of the Week: Explosive science to save lives)
- Determining explosive lethality and vulnerabilities
- Developing techniques and technologies to defeat explosives threats
- Determining the short-and long-term effects of explosives aging
- Operations, characterization, and firing with explosives and radiological materials in contact
- Performing core surveillance
- Analyzing blast effects as well as potential mitigation
- Characterizing shock and detonation physics properties of materials
Many unique Los Alamos specialties contribute to this important capability, including
- Open-air and confined firing with many types of diagnostics
- Gas and powder guns
- Flash x-rays, high-speed cameras, interferometric techniques, magnetic gauging, pyrometry and many more diagnostics
- Research- and pilot-plant scale formulation, powder production, pressing, crystallization, and casting (see the Picture of the Week: Brewing high explosives)
- Production facility for war reserve detonators, detonator R&D
- Synthetic and analytical chemistry
- Mechanical properties testing
- Thermal response
- Microstructural characterization
- Shock and non-shock initiation
- Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility
- Proton Radiography Facility
- Lujan Neutron Scattering Center
- Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies
- Materials Science Laboratory
- National High Magnetic Field Laboratory