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


Although not often thought of as such, LLNL is by any measure a leading materials research laboratory. Every day we advance the fundamental and leading-edge materials science that is central to the Laboratory's research endeavors and mission. Our multidisciplinary Materials Science Division (MSD) is dedicated to creating novel materials and understanding the properties and performance of materials subjected to extreme conditions. We use state-of-the-art characterization technologies coupled with modeling and simulation to meet current and future national security needs. Growth areas include metallurgy, material corrosion and degradation, nanomaterials and assembly, and computational materials science. From actinides and lanthanides to explosives and polymers, MSD is constantly innovating at the intersection of chemistry, materials science, and condensed-matter physics.

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.

October 26, 2016

Research Slam! winners pictured from left: Ramya Tunuguntla, Michael Homel, Anna Belle and Daniel McCartt.

PLS postdocs embrace Research Slam

Picture this: it's the day of your first poster presentation as a postdoc. You've picked out your best professional suit (or your only professional suit, reserved just for this occasion), your poster has been beautifully printed with help from the Lab's print plant, and your heart is racing with nerves and excitement. Your first interested visitor stops by, quizzically glances at your poster, and asks you for a short synopsis of your research for the non-specialist. How do you reply?

Preparing for those types of scenarios is exactly what the Lab's first Research Slam was all about. A competition to see who could give the best three-minute research presentation, using no more than three slides, the Research Slam was an opportunity for postdocs to showcase their research, as well as strengthen their presentation skills, particularly for a non-specialist audience.

October 11, 2016

LLNL researcher Wayne Meier has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Fusion Technology Award.

Fusion award honors LLNL scientist's career

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (link is external)' (IEEE) Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) selected Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researcher Wayne Meier as the recipient of their 2016 Fusion Technology Award. The award will be presented at the 2017 Symposium on Fusion Engineering June 4-8 in Shanghai, China.

The Fusion Technology Award recognizes Meier's 40-year career of research and leadership advancing the science, technology and integrated assessment of fusion power plants. "It's a satisfying recognition of all my years in the field of fusion technology," Meier said. "To be acknowledged by this committee, that I've worked with for many years on different technical projects as well as international conferences, is an honor."

Meier retired in September as the deputy program leader for the Fusion Energy Sciences Program (FESP). He was notified of the award two weeks after retiring. "So this is a nice cap on my career," he said. He will continue with the Lab as a visiting scientist sharing his knowledge and expertise in fusion technology.

October 7, 2016

Photo of Octavio Cervantes, deputy group leader in the Materials Science Division of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate.

Meet Octavio Cervantes

When Octavio Cervantes and his family first settled in Los Angeles after emigrating from Mexico, he was excited to have a fresh start. "I was 12 years old and I vividly remember my father telling my family that we needed to work hard, as our new life started in this country."

While he didn't have a clear picture of what he wanted to do in life, he knew that education was very important. He spent hours each day on the bus commuting to Pacific Palisades to go to a good public school.

Cervantes' story is one of perseverance and dedication. Now a successful materials scientist, principal investigator and newly appointed deputy group leader in the Materials Science Division of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Cervantes came from humble origins and has worked hard to get to where he is today.