Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Dynamic Plutonium Experiments

Physics Division develops and manages unique capabilities supporting a key component of science-based stockpile stewardship.


Experiments advance understanding of plutonium in extreme conditions

Since the end of nuclear testing, the nation has had to rely on sophisticated computer models to ensure the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile. This program is known as science-based stockpile stewardship. Even with the world’s fastest computers and most advanced modeling capability, the behavior of materials under dynamic loads that occur in a nuclear weapon is difficult to accurately model.

The Dynamic Plutonium experimental program carries out experiments at the Nevada National Security Site on plutonium driven by high explosives. 

Physics Division has unique capabilities in high-speed x-ray and visible imaging and in velocimetry (measuring the velocity of fast moving material) under the challenging conditions needed to understand the behavior of plutonium in extreme conditions.