Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Physics division logo

Leading frontier physics research and development for national security and national goals

Division Leader: William Evans
Division Administrator:  Lisa Lopez   +1-925-423-0250

The Physics Division conducts leading-edge R&D activities to anticipate and address national needs in the 21st century. Research topics span astrophysics, planetary science, condensed matter physics, and atomic & plasma physics. The Division has a major focus on High Energy Density Science and its connections to the Laboratory missions. The Division's activities also include development of advanced science and technology in the areas of optics, imaging systems, x-ray optics, detectors, accelerators, materials at extreme conditions, equations-of-state, quantum simulations, lasers, space, and fusion. Theoretical and experimental research thrusts are tightly coordinated to provide predictive, validated, comprehensive solutions to national science and technology needs.

Applied Physics Section  


Associate Division Leader

The Applied Physics section comprises three groups that perform basic and applied research to support all three Laboratory Program Directorates and the science and security missions of external sponsors. Our scientists investigate the nature of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, explore the dynamics of ultra-fast photon-matter interactions and perform observations to better understand the composition and distribution of planets and neutron stars. We have deep expertise in visible wavelength optics, X-ray optics, adaptive optics, X-ray photon/matter interactions, space science and astrophysics and large-scale physics-based modeling and simulation. We design, fabricate, characterize and use astrophysical instrumentation for basic science and national security; some of our recent projects include: the Gemini Planet Imager, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and NuSTAR satellites, the Large Synoptic Space Telescope and the NRO's CubeSat−Next Generation Bus program. Our scientists and engineers also create advanced X-ray instruments for the NIF, nuclear non-proliferation, U.S. industry and DOE X-ray light sources.

Condensed Matter Section  

William Evans

Associate Division Leader

Our section supports core scientific and technological missions of the Laboratory, executing forefront research in condensed matter physics, science and technology. The research portfolio addresses needs in national security, high-energy-density science, equation-of-state and constitutive properties, basic science and advanced technology. Scientists in the section use modern experimental platforms, high-performance computing and advanced theoretical methods. A signature deliverable of the section is comprehensive predictive understandings of the physics of matter under a broad range of conditions using tightly coordinated theory, experiments and simulations. Scientists in the Condensed Matter section support national security science and technology missions and pursue forward-looking research studies to anticipate and address future challenges.

Harry McLean

Associate Division Leader

The Fusion Energy Sciences Program (FESP) conducts research funded by the DOE SC Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES). The primary research areas include: (1) MFE experimental research conducted through collaborations on the General Atomics DIII-D tokamak experiment and on PPPL's NSTX-U spherical tokamak experiment; (2) Fusion & Plasma Theory and Modeling in support of the DIII-D and NSTX-U collaborations, as well as international MFE facilities primarily found in Asia and Europe; (3) Fusion Materials and Technology research in support of fusion nuclear science; and (4) High-Energy-Density Laboratory Plasma (HEDLP) research that explores fundament plasma science questions in densities and temperatures relevant to HED Science. In addition to the research funded by SC FES, FESP is the PLS Physics division discipline home for Applied Plasma and EM Simulation group.

High Energy Density Science Section  

David Bradley

Associate Division Leader

Our High Energy Density Science (HEDS) research comprises four groups dedicated to theoretical and experimental research in high energy density (HED) physics, astrophysics, and advanced diagnostic development, emphasizing areas important to major Laboratory programs. These groups pursue forefront research directed towards the development of experimentally validated models that describe the state of matter and the physics of matter/radiation interactions in high energy density plasmas, which contributes to our fundamental understanding of nuclear weapons, fusion plasmas, astrophysics, and planetary science. To advance HED research, enhance interactions with the international research community, and provide venues for training new scientists, we operate two intermediate scale facilities, the Jupiter Laser Facility  and the Electron Beam Ion Trap .