Los Alamos National Laboratory

My View: John Sarrao, MaRIE Project Program Director
Serving the Nation's Evolving Needs

picture of John Sarrao

During the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission was not only secret but very focused—to build the first atomic bomb. In the years that followed, the focus broadened as the Laboratory took on new missions, including developing and maintaining our nation’s nuclear deterrent, and expanded its capabilities to help achieve those missions. Today, Los Alamos is an open, diversified research Laboratory that contributes to a widening array of scientific disciplines related both directly and indirectly to national security.

In this issue of 1663, you’ll find clear examples of the Laboratory’s wide-ranging involvement in science. The work of Giday WoldeGabriel, highlighted by Science and Time magazines forits contribution to 2009’s “Science Breakthrough of the Year,”benefits the whole world by revealing the origins of hominids,our earliest ancestors. WoldeGabriel’s approach to geology, integrating information from the macroscopic to the microscopic, supports both the international search for hominids and the Laboratory’s efforts to minimize environmental impacts.

The new Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics, led by Victor Klimov, is exploring how quantum phenomena that appear only on the nanoscale can contribute to next-generation solar photovoltaics (solar panels) that are both cheaper and more efficient and therefore an affordable alternative to fossil fuels. Such efforts at applying fundamental physics to sustainable energy are now considered central to the Laboratory’s role as the premier national security science laboratory.

This issue also provides a glimpse into the Laboratory’s future with a prospective on MaRIE, the Laboratory’s proposed flagship experimental facility, now in the planning stages. Standing for Matter-Radiation Interactions in Extremes, MaRIE is being designed to revolutionize how we investigate and predict material behavior under extreme temperatures, pressures, and radiation environments. The data gathered with MaRIE’s unique probes, combined with computer modeling capabilities that are second to none, should enable predictive certification and lifetime extension of our nuclear stockpile as well as efficient design of materials for future nuclear fission and fusion reactors. At the same time, MaRIE will be an international user facility advancing the search for revolutionary materials to solve global problems.

John Sarrao's signature

John Sarrao
MaRIE Project Program Director

 

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