Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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


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Glenn Fox

Three decades of energetic materials expertise

Where would you go to find experts who understand energetic materials? Or to pose the question another way—who studies non-nuclear, high-explosive materials that store and release large amounts of chemical energy in order to protect our nation? For more than three decades, LLNL has been the home base for many of our nation’s experts in this critical research area, including multidisciplinary teams of physicists, chemists, material scientists, and data scientists.

This unique team is integrated by the Laboratory’s Energetic Materials Center (EMC). The Center was established in 1991 to serve as the focal point for this expanding research space, and it continues to serve as a key resource for U.S. stakeholders. These experts analyze the behavior of energetic materials, develop and test new material formulations, and conduct rapid assessments of chemicals that could be used in terrorist attacks. They also study ways to strengthen our nation’s nuclear deterrent, advance the performance of conventional munitions, and detect and mitigate threats.

Much of their research focuses on the category of energetic material known as high explosives (HEs), and they tap into a wealth of resources at LLNL to support their investigations.

  • They advance high-speed diagnostics and study HE performance at LLNL’s High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) and Site 300.
  • They leverage LLNL’s additive manufacturing capabilities to tailor the behavior of HEs for specific national security missions.
  • They test the performance of HEs using LLNL’s high-energy lasers, capturing experimental data regarding laser-driven high explosives during reactions.
  • They tap into LLNL’s predictive science capabilities, including theory development, computational modeling, and data science, coupled to Livermore’s supercomputing enterprise, to speed development of new energetic compounds.
  • They enable the success of numerous nuclear stockpile modernization efforts for the National Nuclear Security Administration, employing subject matter expertise built upon decades of excellence in science and technology.

Our teams also develop solutions for key stakeholders, including the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security. For example, they deliver training for agency personnel who may encounter explosive devices, along with guidance regarding how to safely handle these situations. Our teams also develop innovative diagnostics that public safety personnel can use to rapidly detect explosives. They even developed the technology to produce a 3D-printed tool that may eventually be used to train dogs to detect explosives.

Learn more about our three decades of innovative research involving energetic materials, and read about some of our latest research involving energetic materials, including efforts to:

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Summer Institute

The 2018 Computational Chemistry and Materials Science (CCMS) Summer Institute will have a special focus on “Quantum Materials and Chemistry” to highlight the science challenges and research opportunities in the development of novel materials for emerging energy and information technologies.

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Summer Internship

Materials and Chemistry Institute (MaCI) offers a unique summer internship experience. Interns have access to state-of-the-art facilities like the Nanoscale Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory, the Jupiter Laser Facility, the Energetic Materials Center, and the National Ignition Facility.

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Nuclear Forensics
Summer Institute

The mission of the Seaborg Institute is to facilitate the training of the next generation of nuclear scientists. This program offers graduate students the opportunity to work directly with leading LLNL researchers on projects in the areas of nuclear forensics, nuclear chemistry, and environmental radiochemistry.

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Physical & Life Sciences External Review Committee

Information for PLS External Review Committee Members