Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Mission-driven science and technology advancing the security and well-being of the nation


Photo of Glenn Fox, PLS Associate Director

Glenn Fox


Nuclear science is a foundational discipline at LLNL and has undergone a resurgence in the past several years. The Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division, NACS, brings together expertise in the fields of nuclear, radio- and analytical chemistry, nuclear experimental and theoretical physics and particle physics, to support LLNL's programmatic missions including stockpile stewardship, nuclear and chemical forensics, nuclear safeguards, non-proliferation and response. Additionally, NACS scientists are discovering new elements, chasing elusive new particles and answering some of the most fundamental scientific questions about dark matter, neutrino physics, nucleosynthesis and the origins of the universe.

August 24, 2016

LLNL researchers have measured how force moves through 3D granular materials such as sand and soil. Photo by Sean O'Flaherty.

Feeling the force between sand grains

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have measured how forces move through 3D granular materials, determining how this important class of materials might pack and behave in processes throughout nature and industry.

Granular materials such as sand, soil and rice exist everywhere around us. However, scientists and engineers do not yet fully understand how external forces move through these materials. The ability to quantify that force transmission is missing, yet critical in efforts to predict material behavior.

Using X-ray diffraction, computed tomography and new mathematical analysis, the team measured how forces move through a slowly compressed, opaque 3D granular material. The new technique confirmed that forces move spatially through granular materials in patterns that agree with theory and simulations, and tend to behave more uniformly as load is increased.

August 23, 2016

Lab researcher Jennifer Rodriguez examines a 3D printed box that was 'programmed' to fold and unfold when heated. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL.

Going beyond 3D printing to add a new dimension for additive manufacturing

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab.

In an article published recently by the journal Scientific Reports (link is external), Lab scientists and engineers revealed a strategy for creating boxes, spirals and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based "smart" materials that exhibit shape-changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature.

While the approach of using responsive materials in 3D printing, often known as "4D printing," is not new, LLNL researchers are the first to combine the process of 3D printing and subsequent folding (via origami methods) with conductive smart materials to build complex structures.

August 16, 2016

Images of three technologies developed by PLS researchers,which have been tapped as finalists for the 2016 R&D 100 awards.

New electron microscope expands materials characterization capabilities at Laboratory

A new Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) installed at the Lab earlier this year is giving LLNL researchers a clearer look at the atomic level of structures than they've had before.

The Titan 80-300 TEM, manufactured by FEI Company, was installed in December and brings an expanded capability to the existing transmission electron microscope the Lab has had for about 20 years, according to LLNL staff scientist Joe McKeown. Among the improvements include a high-angle annular dark field (HAADF) detector for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), which allows for Z-contrast imaging due to enhanced scattering from high atomic number elements, and a low-voltage mode for analyzing polymers and biological samples that may be more sensitive to high-energy electrons.

"With the dark field detector, heavier elements appear brighter in contrast, so we can more easily and quickly perform both structural and compositional analysis of microstructures," McKeown said.

July 8, 2016

Photo of Erica West.

Meet Erica West: future physicist

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL expects to welcome more than 900 students from universities nationwide and around the world.

Erica West is working with several mentors from the Computational Chemistry and Materials Science Summer School (CCMS) running classical molecular dynamics simulations using the Vienna Ab Initio Simulation Package (VASP) model computer program.

"I am learning some amazing science from meeting with my mentors, attending lectures and discussing science with fellow students. The most interesting thing, at the moment, is learning how to manipulate the molecular dynamics simulation model, VASP. Learning how to properly use VASP has deepened my fundamental understanding of material science and chemistry."

May 31, 2016

Pictured: Lab corps cohorts.

LLNL's Lab-Corps cohort returns invigorated

The 2016 LLNL Lab-Corps cohort of researchers including PLS's Yongqin Jiao and Michael Stadermann recently returned from in-depth entrepreneurial training at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver.

An eight-week program that started in early March, the Lab-Corps national training teaches the process of moving high-impact, real-world technologies into the private sector.

"Lab-Corps has demystified the process of building a company for me," Stadermann added. "My most significant learning experience was the application of the scientific method to a non-science problem: We had to formulate hypotheses about our business, customers, value, partners, and then validate them through interviews.

May 17, 2016

Dawn Shaughnessy

Researcher cracks top 10 in 'most creative' list

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory chemist Dawn Shaughnessy has been named No. 9 on Fast Company's Top 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2016.

Shaughnessy is the principal investigator of the Heavy Element Group, where she has worked as a nuclear and radiochemist since 2002. In December 2015, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry added three new entries to the periodic table of elements that had been synthesized by a team of researchers led by Shaughnessy. Partnering with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, the group has discovered five new "superheavy" elements since 2004, bearing the atomic numbers 114 to 118 with element 116 named after the Laboratory as Livermorium.