Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Dynamic Experiments at Los Alamos National Laboratory

A world leader in energetic materials research, development and applications, the Dynamic Experiments Center's unique capabilities enable a dynamic, flexible response to address multiple evolving mission needs.

explosives experiment

Comprehensive energetic materials development, characterization and testing are key strengths at Los Alamos National Laboratory. An experimental explosive is shown igniting during small-scale impact testing.

Nuclear weapons energetic materials science, technology and engineering expertise since 1943

Los Alamos novel rocket design flight tested

Los Alamos novel rocket design flight tested

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 Dynamic Experiments Center's capabilities include a focus on countering emerging threats such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and supporting the warfighter missions.

gas gun

A Los Alamos researcher installs a target in one of the research "gas guns" designed for high precision experiments on the ignition of explosives. Full-spectrum end-to-end integrated capabilities in energetic materials with nuclear application experience and modeling and simulation capabilities exist only at Los Alamos and the National Nuclear Security Administration laboratories.

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.


Homemade Explosives School

Los Alamos Guns Take Aim at Material's Mysteries

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
Homemade Explosives School

Homemade Explosives School

Many unique Los Alamos specialties contribute to this important capability, including