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Capability Pillars

The Lab’s six Capability Pillars harness our multi-disciplinary scientific capabilities for national security solutions.

Capability Pillars: Harnessing our capabilities

The Laboratory has established the Capability Pillars under six main themes to bring together the Laboratory's diverse array of scientific capabilities and expertise. The Capability Pillar concept is the primary tool the Laboratory uses to manage our multidisciplinary scientific capabilities and activities.

Each Capability Pillar allows the Laboratory to rapidly and effectively draw on the necessary scientific capabilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory, so we can address national security challenges as they arise and offer viable solutions.

Information, Science and Technology (IS&T)

Information, Science, and Technology Pillar The IS&T pillar is a foundational and forward-looking pillar with inherent alignment across other pillar capabilities, organizations, and programs. Integration, for the purpose of discovery and prediction, requires the ongoing anticipation and coupling of advanced analytics, modeling and simulation methods, algorithms and codes with a vibrant yet robust IS&T infrastructure capable of supporting dynamic interaction with data from many sources, including suites of experiments and observations.

This pillar stimulates and leverages advances in physical theory, applied math, data science, algorithms, and diverse approaches to high-performance computing to accelerate predictive capability. The other pillars, in turn, leverage this pillar to achieve their own long-term goals. This pillar supports an integrated set of pillars in a discovery-to-prediction Laboratory.

Materials for the Future

Materials for the Future Pillar At Los Alamos, we are transitioning from observing and exploiting the properties of materials to a science-based capability that creates materials with properties optimized for specific functions. We are pursuing the discovery science and engineering required to establish design principles, synthesis pathways, and manufacturing processes that control functionality in materials relevant to our missions.


Nuclear and Particle Futures

Nuclear and Particle Futures Pillar Los Alamos is the premier laboratory in the United States for “all-things nuclear,” with capabilities that are grounded in its Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) and Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest (DARHT) facilities, its leadership in critical assembly work, and extensive capabilities in nuclear experiment, theory, and simulation. By integrating nuclear experiments, theory, and simulation, we are working to understand and engineer complex nuclear phenomena.

Science of Signatures (SoS)

Signatures are the unique elements that allow us to locate threats within their environments and describe them (e.g., the pattern variation that lets us distinguish spinach from poison ivy). The Los Alamos scientific leadership in signatures extends from nuclear and radiological to chemical and materials, biological, energy, climate, and space signatures. Our scientific strategy is to discover new signatures, revolutionize the measurement of signatures, and engineer and deploy advanced signature-related technologies from the lab to the field.

Complex Natural and Engineered Systems (CNES)

Los Alamos National Laboratory is a world leader in applying multi-disciplinary science to complex systems, in particular those involving nuclear threats, non-nuclear threats, and engineered systems. Our search for solutions requires science and technology innovation, as well as integrated experiment, theory, and modeling and simulation.

Our research and development spans from improving engineered systems such as nuclear weapons and the power grid, to understanding the interface of human and engineered systems from the subsurface to space, to studying how complex natural systems such as disease and climate impact humanity.

Weapons Systems (WS)

 The Weapons System Capability Pillar strengthens the institutional strategic research in capabilities underpinning the Laboratory’s weapons program that address emerging national security challenges.

The focus of this Pillar will be on integrated system research and development targeted at building an agile, responsive capability that could design, develop, manufacture, and certify conceptual systems needed to meet emergent threats and manufacturing production complex constraints. This will position us to develop the next generation of systems, building increasingly on our advanced knowledge of weapons physics and engineering.