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.

September 15, 2016

An independent compound chondrule consisting of barred olivine and porphyritic olivine section in the meteorite NWA 2372 CK4. Image courtesy of John Kashuba.

Laboratory researchers find Earth composed of different materials than primitive meteorites

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have found that, contrary to popular belief, the Earth is not comprised of the same material found in primitive meteorites (also known as chondrites).

This is based on the determination that the abundance of several neodymium (Nd) isotopes are different in the Earth and in chondritic meteorites.

A long-standing theory assumes that the chemical and isotopic composition of most elements in the bulk silicate Earth is the same as primitive meteorites.

However, 10 years ago it was discovered that rocks on the surface of the Earth had a higher abundance of 142Nd than primitive meteorites, leading to a hypothesis that Earth had either a hidden reservoir of Nd in its mantle or inherited more of the parent isotope 146smarium (Sm), which subsequently decayed to 142Nd.

September 14, 2016

LLNL researchers are working on a chlamydia vaccine. Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute.

Lab team wins National Institutes of Health two-year grant to develop chlamydia vaccine

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with UC Irvine and Synthetic Genomics, won a two-year $485,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore new ways to develop a chlamydia vaccine.

The team's project, "Synthetic Generation of a chlamydia Vaccine," uses bioengineering to formulate a major outer membrane protein (MOMP) vaccine. This protein has proved effective in preventing the disease in mice and had promising results in non-human primate vaccine studies.

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection worldwide, with more than 90 million new cases of the infection each year. Treatment is available. However, antibiotics do not prevent reoccurrences. If the infection is left untreated in women, chlamydia can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and preterm birth, and in newborns conjunctivitis and pneumonia.

September 13, 2016

Lawrence Livermore researchers calculated the structural transformation of iron, showing how it springs back to shape under pressure.

LLNL-led team develops forensic method to identify people using human hair proteins

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicists has performed a series of calculations shedding light on an unexpected way that iron transforms under dynamic compression.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, the team describes first-principle calculations on two solid phases of iron, as well as on intermediate crystal structures along the transformation path from one phase to the other. The calculations involve a carefully parameterized model for magnetic fluctuations (i.e., electron spin waves), including the effect of moving the iron nuclei as the material is squeezed in a shock experiment.

Lawrence Livermore scientists have played multiple roles in this particular problem, spanning more than a decade. A Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Strategic Initiative project, led by Hector Lorenzana, performed pioneering shock experiments, including some on single crystal iron.

September 6, 2016

Pictured are researcher Greg Brennecka and Carolyn Crow, a PLS postdoctoral researcher.

Lab researchers receive awards from The Meteoritical Society

The Meteoritical Society honored two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers during their annual meeting that occurred this month in Berlin, Germany.

Carolyn Crow, a postdoctoral researcher in the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division who studies impact signatures recorded in lunar and terrestrial zircons, won the Gordon A. McKay Award for her presentation at last year's meeting, "U-Xe Degassing Ages of Terrestrial and Lunar Impact Zircons."

The Gordon A. McKay Award is given to the member who is a full-time student and gives the best oral presentation at the Meteoritic Society's annual meeting.

Greg Brennecka, a researcher at LLNL between 2006 and 2014 who studies the importance of supernovae in the early Solar System, was awarded the Nier Prize for his work on isotopic variations in meteorites and the chronology of the Solar System.

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.