LANL Teams Receive NNSA Awards
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) honored hundreds of Los Alamos colleagues from thirteen teams with Defense Programs Awards of Excellence for exceptional performance in meeting national security challenges. New NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, Don Cook, spoke at the awards ceremony and directorate all-hands meeting—hosted by Charles McMillan, Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs—on August 30 at LANL. Cook also presented Pollution Prevention Awards.
Cook, a physicist who oversees the nuclear weapons program for NNSA, spoke about how nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation treaties and policies recently implemented make this an, "exceptional time" adding, "I have never seen a time like this." Cook proclaimed that Los Alamos continues to play a vital role in a national-security duality that involves modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent and ensuring effective arms control. He noted that as the size of the stockpile is reduced, the weapons must be modernized. Cook said LANL's unique combination of skills garnered the nation's trust for this work.
Defense Programs Awards of Excellence Recipients
This computional-physics staff member enabled Atomic Weapons Establishment personnel based in the United Kingdom to collaborate with the United States on the survivability engineering campaign during a three-month visit, resulting in a lengthy technical document supporting the international program.
Donald L. Cook and Karin Hendrickson
Scott Runnels and the Lagrangian Hydrodynamics Integrated Product Team
This team's work has been the model for multidisciplinary software verification and was essential for solving stockpile Lagrangian hydrodynamics performance problems. Their work also increased project funding.
Francisco J. Souto and Anil K. Prinja
This two-member Theoretical Design Division nuclear safety team was nominated for their reevaluation of the Bell-Longmire-Mercer theory.
Robert A. Gore Verification and Validation Milestone Team
The team made significant achievements in weapons assessment. Gore's team performed a broad and in-depth evaluation of an Advanced Simulation and Computing Program code's performance-modeling capability, resulting in a monumental advance in the predictive capability. They achieved substantially higher quality matches to a wide set of experimental data, enabling better performance.
Bruce E. Takala and the LANSCE Operations Team
This team was extraordinarily committed to providing user beam time for the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. A record number of beam hours were delivered to the Proton Radiography Facility, with a reliability factor approaching a remarkable 92 percent.
Blake Wood and the W76-1 Alternate Material Certification Team
The certification team pursued a multi-pronged technical approach to support timely completion of the W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP): detailed physics modeling, small-scale experimental analysis, and comparison to near-neighbor underground nuclear tests. This team's work provided data for future LEP's use of alternate materials, established a prototype for future component reuse design certification, and could reduce costs by millions of dollars.
Dave Funk and the First Dual-Axis Hydrotest Team
The team executed the first dual-axis hydrotest in support of our stewardship mission, successfully obtaining five dynamic images in 2009 (with three more successful test shots in 2010). The team completed multiple complex assessments while introducing administrative and engineered controls to establish confidence in the operation of DARHT—while simultaneously performing a DARHT firing point cleanup.
Steve McCready and the ABAQUS-MCNP Unstructured Mesh Team
This team created and tested a new unstructured mesh capability that has saved several man-years worth of effort, improved accuracy of stockpile stewardship simulations, and created and tested the next generation of code interconnectivity between neutron transport and thermo-mechanical codes. New capabilities will be useful towards stockpile work, medical physics, radiation shielding, space satellites, and other applications.
Mark Chadwick and the Fission Basis Team
Multidisciplinary teams from Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore collaborated to resolve an outstanding 35-year issue: fundamental nuclear data associated with fission-product production from fission-spectrum neutron bombardment of plutonium. Results from the work significantly impact the FY10 joint level one milestone, all of the underground test suite modeling efforts, as well as the annual assessment review from the laboratory directors.
Christopher Fugard and the Weapon Analysis Team
The Weapon Analysis Team has designed and conducted experiments and evaluations to gain a better understanding of various aspects of protecting unauthorized access to assets and ensuring positive control and protection of those assets. The team has maintained high-level computing, simulation, and data and document storage capabilities.
Becky Olinger and LANL Homemade Explosives Training Team
This team created a training program to help U.S. military personnel combat a variety of explosives they might encounter while deployed. Military personnel attend an intensive three-day course to learn how to detect and identify homemade explosive's production sites, plus characterize a wide variety of improvised-explosive compounds, their ingredients or precursors, and possible chemical or mixing equipment. One of the key tools used overseas is the LANL-developed Emergency Response Explosives Field Guide that catalogs the spectrum of energetic materials and compounds, and is in use by the Department of Defense and in-theater customers.
Robert E. Chrien and the Primary Setup Suite Team
In 2009, a group of technical staff from the Simulation Analysis and Code Development X-3, together with collaborators from X-2, X-4, T-3 and HPC-1, assembled a collection of simulations known as the Primary Setup Suite. This team's efforts resulted in the first modern setups of several events with archived simulation results, improved reliability, increased designer productivity, and enhanced the quality of simulation models.
Laura Smilowitz and the High Explosive Violent Response (HEVR) Team
In 2005, this team demonstrated the first radiographic observation of the plastic-bonded explosive PBX 9501's density evolution during a thermal ignition resulting in HEVR, enabled by a unique laser synchronization technique developed at Los Alamos. 2009 brought record accomplishments: the laser synchronization technique was considerably extended by the first application of laser synchronization to a long aspect ratio experiment in a nonsymmetric configuration.
Sven C. Vogel Fundamental Materials Science of PZT Voltage Bars in Neutron Generators
Vogel's team discovered important new physics in lead-zirconium-titanate (PZT) ceramic voltage bars that scientifically underpins reliable operation of neutron generators. The increased body of knowledge they established through clever neutron-scattering experiments substantially decreases synthesis risks. The team's discoveries also support neutron generator operations and production.
Senatorial Delegation Visits Los Alamos
On July 30, a delegation of senators paid a visit to Los Alamos to review capabilities associated with maintaining a reliable stockpile. The senators were gathering information related to ongoing deliberations for the New START arms-control treaty with Russia.
The following senators made up the delegation: Jon Kyl (Arizona), Bob Corker (Tennessee), John Thune (South Dakota), and James Risch (Idaho), and New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall.
The purpose of the New START treaty is to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russia.
Senators Jon Kyl, Tom Udall, and
Five Los Alamos researchers receive 2010 LANL Fellows Prizes
Five Los Alamos researchers were awarded 2010 Fellows Prizes in October for exemplary scientific research and leadership. The LANL Fellows organization awarded two Fellows Prizes for Outstanding Research in Science or Engineering to Sergei Tretiak and Geoffrey S. Waldo, two Fellows Prizes for Outstanding Leadership in Science or Engineering to Kerry Habiger and Clifford Unkefer, and a Fellows Prize for Special Achievement to Tammy P. Taylor.
The Fellows Prize selection committee selected Tretiak in part for his develop-ment of organic light-emitting diodes for flexible displays, organic lasers, light-harvesting energy devices, and other important technologies. Waldo's work has been integral to securing more than $50 million in research grants at the Laboratory.
The selection committee chose Habiger for being key to creating the SUMMIT program—a rapid-response engineering organization serving the United States intelligence community. Unkefer is leader of the newly formed Bioenergy and Environmental Science Group at the Laboratory and also serves as director of the National Stable Isotope Resource funded by the National Institutes of Health. Taylor led the Nuclear Defense Research and Development Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council and helped create a "Roadmap"—used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to prioritize tasks in nuclear materials detection, forensics, and response and recovery.
Los Alamos Serves as Lead Lab at this Year's NNSA LDRD Symposium
On June 9, NNSA hosted the 2010 NNSA Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Symposium in Washington, DC. This year's theme was "Reducing the Global Danger of Weapons of Mass Destruction."
More than 200 researchers from the national laboratories, including Los Alamos, participated in the event, which also attracted government officials, military personnel, and members from private industry.
Symposium topics covered nuclear counterterrorism, arms control and treaty monitoring, and countering biological and chemical threats. A panel of officials from NNSA and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency discussed current and future technical R&D challenges facing the nation's security from weapons of mass destruction. The symposium also included presentations and a poster session.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Principal Associate Director for Global Security William S. Reese, Jr., presented a talk about reducing global threats through innovative science and technology. Reese described the historic strengths of Los Alamos; how weapons of mass destruction cut across many areas, such as national and international infrastructure, cyber systems, space systems, intelligence, and terrorism; and the possible future missions of global security.
Also making a presentation at the symposium was Mike Rabin of LANL's International, Space and Response Division. Rabin's talk focused on the emerging science behind nuclear detection. He covered many of the sensing and analysis instrumentation under development at Los Alamos, as well as major science-driven challenges expected as instrumentation and threats continue to evolve.
The symposium's poster presentation covered many facets of global dangers. For example, Los Alamos scientist Bette Korber displayed a poster that discussed tracking the emergence of drug resistance to HIV and tuberculosis, both of which in 2008 alone caused two million deaths. Korber discussed how her Los Alamos team is working to develop innovations to track, treat, and better understand these two global killers.
Also on hand was Los Alamos scientist Marianne P. Wilkerson, whose poster addressed the molecular forensic science of nuclear materials. This Los Alamos team is working on developing analytical tools that can exploit chemistry and molecular speciation to identify the origin, intended use, and history of nuclear materials.
Los Alamos Honored with Five R&D 100 Awards
Los Alamos scientists won five of R&D Magazine's R&D 100 Awards, which honor the top 100 proven technological advances of the past year. Winning technologies are Movies Of eXtreme Imaging Experiments (MOXIE), DAAFox, Ultraconductus, Solution Deposition Planarization, and Ultrasonic Algal Biofuel Harvester.
"The scientific innovation and creativity at Los Alamos is exemplified by yet another set of five R&D 100 awards," said Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio. "My congratulations go out not only to this year's winners but to all eight teams chosen to submit entries, each one an example of the talent and determination of our excellent technical staff to produce game-changing science and technology in the national interest."
Developed by a team led by Scott Watson, MOXIE is the world's fastest camera that enables researchers to "see" into the unseen by imaging transient events from start to finish. The principal application for MOXIE is to create x-ray movies of mock detonations used to verify computer models, an essential component of nuclear weapon certification without nuclear testing. Other applications include studying the physical properties of materials and performing ballistic studies.
DAAFox is a new way to make an ideal secondary explosive (diaminoazoxyfurazan), one that can be used as an explosive booster for applications that require both insensitivity and enhanced performance. DAAFox is powerful (requires less explosive to achieve the same yield as other explosives), insensitive (resists accidental ignition), environmentally green (yields only salty water as a waste product), and easy to produce and scalable (one-step process produces a batch in only four hours). A Los Alamos team led by Elizabeth Francois developed DAAFox, which also won a Pollution Prevention Award from the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2009.
Ultraconductus, developed by a team headed up by James Maxwell, is a new nanotechnology designed to manufacture high-tech wires and cables that conduct electricity more easily than any other metal alloy.
Solution Deposition Planarization is an environmentally green way to produce superconducting wires that enable long-length energy transmission with zero energy loss. A team led by Vladimir Matias developed this breakthrough technology.
The Ultrasonic Algal Biofuel Harvester, developed by a team led by Greg Goddard, uses high-frequency sound to extract oils and proteins from algae in one integrated step. The harvester's end products are algal biofuels, protein (which can be used as animal feed), and easily recycled water.
Since 1978, Los Alamos has won 117 R&D 100 awards. The prestigious awards are chosen from industry, academia, and government-sponsored research.
Distinguished Performance Awards
LANL Director Michael Anastasio and the Lab's principal associate directors honored five individuals and seven teams who received LANL's 2009 Distinguished Performance Awards at multiple ceremonies in October for outstanding contributions.
Christopher S. Fugard (IAT-3) added significantly to NNSA's understanding of the technical issues regarding potential nuclear threats; his work had an impact on NNSA's Defense Programs and Nuclear Counterterrorism efforts.
Lorenzo Gonzales (STBPO-EPDO), a Master Teacher in the Northern New Mexico Math and Science Academy—the Laboratory's community education outreach program for K-12 teachers—implemented many new teaching programs at the K-12 and collegiate levels in New Mexico.
Jagdish C. (J.C.) Laul (SB-TS), a principal safety engineer, developed the technical bases that justified establishing lower hazard designations for six nuclear and nonnuclear Laboratory sites.
Howard J. Patton (EES-17) developed and published a theory that explains the unusual surface wave energy found in the 2006 and 2009 North Korean nuclear weapons tests.
John E. Valencia (ISR-1) is a driving force behind space programs supporting the nation's nuclear nonproliferation treaty monitoring capabilities. His outstanding efforts on the GPS-III sensors ensure that the Space Nuclear Detonation Detection program is well positioned for global coverage of nuclear threats during the next 20 years.
Small Team Recipients:
B83 Peer Review Team
Biodefense Informatics Team
Fission Basis Team
Multiscale, Multiphysics Modeling and Simulations for Nuclear Fuels Team
ORCAS Hyperspectral Imager Team (proliferation detection)
Large Team Recipients:
Algal Biofuels Consortium Development Team
Fall Classic Project Team (nuclear diagnostics and validation)
H1N1 Analysis Team
MATLS-PE-09 Proficiency Test Team (nuclear forensics)
NCam Airborne Deployment Team (nonproliferation data collection)
NISC SCIF Expansion Project Team (national and global security)
Small Sample Plutonium Machining Team
Cisco Bailon and Michael Anastasio
NIF: On the Road to Ignition
The National Ignition Facility (NIF)—conceived as one of the cornerstones of stockpile stewardship—began operations in the summer of 2009. The NIF is able to heat and compress matter to temperatures and densities unattainable anywhere else on earth. The world's largest laser, NIF can deliver up to 1.8 MJ (megajoules, or one million joules) of laser light precisely into a small (≈3 mm) target. This target converts the laser energy into soft x-rays that then drive very strong shocks into the physics package within the target.
Los Alamos National Laboratory and its collaborators at the NIF are about to attempt inertial confinement fusion and create—very importantly—energy gain. The same fusion energy process that powers the sun could be our answer to power our planet. Will we unlock the stored energy of atomic nuclei and produce ten to 100 times the amount of energy required to start the fusion burn? If we can create—and therefore understand—stars, we can get answers to a plethora of questions about astrophysics (black holes, supernovas), materials science, and nuclear physics in a controlled setting. The NIF will also provide an excellent platform for understanding the physical phenomena that occur at extreme density and temperature. The NIF will not be used to generate electricity, but experiments could make fusion energy a viable source for vast amounts of energy.
In its first mission, NIF will be used to achieve thermonuclear ignition and burn in the laboratory by using those x-rays to compress deuterium and tritium fuel contained within a spherical capsule. This experimental campaign has so far addressed the energy balance within the target and determined how the capsule can be symmetrically compressed for maximum efficiency. In the next set of experiments, the timing of the several shocks that compress the capsule will be optimized and the final dimensions of the capsule and target will be tuned for optimum performance.
Using the extensive set of nuclear and non-nuclear diagnostics being commissioned, a large number of high-energy-density physics experiments in radiation flow, thermonuclear burn, mix, equation of state, and opacity, among other areas, are enabled. Los Alamos National Laboratory will commence experiments in many of these areas as the NIF becomes available.
Early this year, NIF's first experiments resulted in highly symmetrical compression of simulated fuel capsules—a requirement for NIF to achieve its goal of fusion ignition and energy gain when ignition experiments begin later this year. The test shots proved NIF's ability to deliver sufficient energy to the hohlraum to reach the radiation temperatures—more than 3 million degrees Centigrade—needed to create the intense bath of X-rays that compress the fuel capsule.
In October, the NIF completed its first integrated ignition experiment. In the test, the 192-beam laser system fired 1 megajoule of laser energy into its first cryogenically layered capsule, raising the drive energy by a factor of thirty over experiments previously conducted at the Omega laser at the University of Rochester. With the completion of this test, NIF is beginning its next phase of the campaign to culminate in fusion ignition tests.
This fall, the Project Management Institute lauded NIF with its 2010 Project of the Year award. Four NIF technologies also captured renowned R&D1 00 awards from R&D Magazine this year.
The NIF fusion ignition experiments are part of the National Ignition Campaign, a partnership among the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, General Atomics, and Sandia National Laboratories and other national laboratories and universities.
-Octavio Ramos Jr. and Kirsten Fox contributed to these news briefs.