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.

July 26, 2016

Photo showing principal investigator Elizabeth Wheeler, Heather Enright  and lead biologist Kris Kulp. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL.

Lab team measures peripheral nervous system activity with microchip-based platform

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have successfully incorporated adult human peripheral nervous system (PNS) cells on a microelectrode platform for long-term testing of chemical and toxic effects on cell health and function.

The study, part of a project known as iCHIP (in-vitro Chip-Based Human Investigational Platform), was recently published online in the journal Analyst. The paper describes the integration of primary human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) cells and glial cells onto a microfluidics chip with embedded electrodes, and the successful testing of several chemicals on the living cells over a period of up to 23 days.

Ultimately, scientists say the research will provide a non-invasive testing platform outside the human body that will predict human exposure to drugs and toxins more accurately than animal studies.

July 18, 2016

Ibo Matthews inspects an in situ diagnostics test bench his team developed for studying laser-driven powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL.

3D printing could revolutionize laser design

LLNL researchers are exploring the use of metal 3D printing to create strong, lightweight structures for advanced laser systems - an effort they say could alter the way lasers are designed in the future.

In a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program, physicist Ibo Matthews and his team are experimenting with a new research-based metal 3D printer, one of only four of its kind in the world, using a customized software platform capable of unprecedented design control.

The powder bed laser-melting printer, made by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) and German startup Aconity 3D, was installed in December 2015. Lab engineers have added diagnostics and high-speed cameras to examine thermal emissions and to image the surface of parts as they're being built. Matthews said the modifications will help the researchers determine how defects or deformations occur during the 3D printing process.

July 11, 2016

Changes in cloud patterns during the last three decades, which likely have had a warming effect on the planet, sync up with climate model simulations. Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Scientists find evidence for climate change in satellite cloud record

Scientists, including researchers from the Atmospheric, Earth and Energy Division of LLNL's Physical and Life Sciences directorate, have found that changes in cloud patterns during the last three decades match those predicted by climate model simulations. These cloud changes are likely to have had a warming effect on the planet.

Records of cloudiness from satellites originally designed to monitor weather are plagued by erroneous variability related to changes in satellite orbit, instrument calibration and other factors, so the team used a new technique to remove the variability from the records. The corrected satellite records exhibited large-scale patterns of cloud change between the 1980s and 2000s that are consistent with climate model predictions, including poleward retreat of mid-latitude storm tracks, expansion of subtropical dry zones and increasing height of the highest cloud tops.

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.