picture of Charles McMillan

Conceived by the great Los Alamos physicist Louis Rosen in the 1960s, the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) was formally dedicated in 1972—40 years ago this year. It is an amazing and unique place that serves the nation as a premier facility for executing both national security and fundamental science.

LANSCE has remained relevant throughout its life because neutrons are ideal for studying nuclear and materials physics in such wide-ranging fields as nuclear weapons, biomedical research, materials science, nanotechnology, electronics testing, and fundamental physics.

As Louis said, "Whether nuclear energy is used for bombs, for generating electricity, or for any number of other purposes, the basic ingredient in the production of nuclear energy is neutrons. So one really needs to maintain expertise and growing knowledge in neutron nuclear science and neutron technology."

As the only linear-accelerator-based U.S. facility equipped to do classified research on stockpile materials and components, LANSCE provides the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with an efficient, cost-effective, and timely means to meet its Stockpile Stewardship mission. LANSCE supports all NNSA laboratories and the United Kingdom's Atomic Weapons Establishment in meeting their nuclear weapons science missions.

As one of only two accelerator-based isotope production facilities in the United States, LANSCE is critical to the Department of Energy's National Isotope Program, which provides, for example, medical isotopes not commercially available. LANSCE's isotopes are used in millions of medical procedures each year, reducing the nation's dependence on foreign isotope sources.

Today, LANSCE has NNSA funding to return the accelerator to its historic performance levels, enabling LANSCE to meet mission requirements for the next 20 years. In addition, thanks to the Board of Governors of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, LANSCE has funding to expand the Irradiation of Chips and Electronics facility (ICE House). The ICE House is a mecca for the global electronics and avionics industries and for the U.S. defense industry. It provides a place for them to test the reliability of microchips and to evaluate the threat of neutron-induced errors that can cause computers to fail.

LANSCE typifies the strengths of Los Alamos National Laboratory. We are a laboratory with a proud history and the skill and determination to help create the future.

I salute the scientists, engineers, technicians, and other professionals at LANSCE, whose teaming and collaboration make it all possible.

Charles McMillan

Charles McMillan,
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director


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