The Physical and Life Sciences Directorate (PLS) employs the latest scientific models, capabilities, and technologies to better understand the ever-evolving challenges affecting our national security.
Our “capability centers” provide specialized resources—from nanoscale materials synthesis to biological agent identification, and from state-of-the-art forensic science to high-performance computing—across a range of scientific disciplines, and our user facilities provide unique capabilities to the broader scientific community.
Our core research areas include:
Atmospheric, earth, and energy science
Key areas of research include seismology, geophysics, geomechanics, geochemistry, atmospheric dispersion, climate modeling and model intercomparison, climate change detection and attribution, and the hydrological and carbon cycles.
We perform fundamental and applied research in areas such as genomics, molecular toxicology, nanotechnology, host–pathogen biology, structural biology, genetics, microbial systems, and medical countermeasures.
PLS is constantly innovating in materials science. Growth areas include metallurgy, material corrosion and degradation, nanomaterials and assembly, advanced manufactured materials, and computational materials science.
Our scientists are exploring the chemistry of heavy elements, chasing elusive new particles, and answering important scientific questions about dark matter, neutrino physics, nuclear structure, nucleosynthesis, and the universe’s origins.
Our work is focused on applied physics, condensed matter physics, fusion energy science, and high-energy-density science. Research topics span astrophysics, planetary science, and atomic and plasma physics.