During a recent visit to the Y-12 National Security Complex, NNSA Uranium Program Manager Tim Driscoll stopped by Building 9204-2E’s new direct canning machine, which allows operators to package enriched uranium material removed from dismantled weapons and ship it directly to the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility for long-term storage. An important element of the Uranium Transformation Strategy at Y-12, shipping directly to HEUMF stops the flow of material into Building 9212, enabling faster inventory reduction and improved safety. Direct canning at Y-12 is estimated to save $20-30 million by 2021, assuming current dismantlement plans.

Oct 5, 2015 at 10:00 am


The hydrogen plasma phase transition experimental team, outside the NIF Control Room

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a National Ignition Facility experimental campaign may have unlocked scientific secrets behind how hydrogen becomes metallic at high pressure.

“Hydrogen properties are still puzzling,” said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Marius Millot. “In particular, back in 1935, it was predicted that hydrogen should become metallic at sufficiently high pressure. But, using static compression, our colleagues have yet to find clear evidence for metallization at room temperature.”

Read more about the quest for metallic hydrogen.

Oct 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm

A rigger scales Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s cargo container stack.A rigger scales Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s cargo container stack.

Researchers from five laboratories and a private company recently spent two days in blistering 100 degree heat testing radiation detection technologies amidst cargo containers. The 15 researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using gamma-ray and neutron imaging detectors to identify radioactive materials using the Laboratory’s cargo container stack testbed.

Read more

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm


During a recent visit to the Y-12 National Security Complex, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, is shown some of the technology in the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility by Warehousing and Transportation Operations Manager Byron Hawkins. Simpson toured Y-12 with Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) as well as NNSA Production Office Deputy Manager Teresa Robbins, Consolidated Nuclear Security President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Haynes, and CNS Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal. In addition to touring HEUMF, the congressmen also visited Building 9212, Building 9204-2 and the future site of the Uranium Processing Facility.

Sep 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm

NNSA BlogThe entrance to Site 300 circa 1955.

Sixty years ago, the University of California Radiation Laboratory began testing high explosives at what would become one of the nation’s most sophisticated non-nuclear weapons testing sites, an 11 square-mile plot of rural grassland tucked away in the steep ravines and tawny rolling hills near the Alameda-San Joaquin County, California, line.

On Thursday, Site 300 celebrated its 60th anniversary, with a picnic attended by more than 100 of the facility’s past and present employees, along with some special guests.

Read more about it.

Sep 28, 2015 at 4:04 pm

R&D Magazine named 18 NNSA lab projects as finalists for the 53rd annual R&D 100 Awards, which honor the 100 most innovative technologies and services of the past year.

Finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 70 judges. This year’s Finalists represent many of industry’s leading organizations and national laboratories, as well as many newcomers to the R&D 100 Awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of Invention.”

This year’s winners will be presented with their honors at the annual black-tie awards dinner in November in Las Vegas.

Among the finalists were:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Harsh Environment Tag (HET) SystemThis technology for first responders is ideally suited for time-sensitive and real-time inventory or personnel tracking in harsh radio frequency signal environments. The entry is a finalist in four categories -- process/prototyping, software/services, market disruptor product and corporate social responsibility. This technology is being developed in collaboration with Pleasanton-based Dirac Solutions Inc.
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS)-based Adaptive-Optics Confocal Microscope

Using the latest advances in adaptive optics and MEMS, this technology revolutionizes deep tissue imaging, providing unprecedented in vivo optical images at the molecular level. The technology is a finalist is two categories -- analytical test and market disruptor product. The work has been performed in conjunction with the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Boston Micromachines Corp.

Zero-order Reaction Kinetics (Zero-RK)

This software package is an innovative computational method that speeds up simulations of chemical systems by 1,000-fold over methods traditionally used for internal combustion engine research. The entry is a finalist in the software/services category.

Large-Area Projection Micro-Stereolithography

A three-dimensional printing instrument, the device can fabricate products of substantial size yet contain highly detailed features in contrast to other 3D printing techniques that generally have to sacrifice overall product size to achieve small features. It is a finalist in the process/prototyping category.

Dilation X-ray Imager

This imager is the world's fastest two-dimensional X-ray framing camera with 10-fold better temporal resolution than existing cameras. It can survive in environments with 10 times higher neutron backgrounds compared to conventional X-ray cameras. The technology is a finalist in the market disruptor product category.  LLNL researchers collaborated on this effort with two companies, San Diego-based General Atomics and Kentech Instruments Ltd. of Great Britain.

High-Power Intelligent Laser Diode System

This laser system employs advances in laser diodes and electrical drivers to achieve two-to-three-fold improvements in peak output power and intensity over existing technology, in a 10 times more compact form that can scale to even larger arrays and power levels. The technology is a finalist in the information technology/electrical category. LLNL collaborated on the laser system with Lasertel of Tucson, Arizona.

  Los Alamos National Laboratory
 LARS LARS is a small-scale radiography device that, for the first time, can provide continuous high-speed x-ray imaging of spontaneous dynamic events, such as explosions, reaction-front propagation and material failure. To image these types of events, scientists require the use of some type of penetrating radiography, which LARS provides. Laura Smilowitz, of the Laboratory’s Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group, and her team and collaborators at CoRELabs developed this technology.
 PipeLIBS Throughout the world, oil, gas, and petrochemical plants often use vessels and pipes to store or transport fluids. Over time, some of these vessels can corrode because of the caustic nature of the fluids inside them. PipeLIBS (Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) is an elemental-analysis system that uses a laser beam to excite material so that it emits light at wavelengths characteristic of its chemical composition; it identifies the target elements and determines their concentration in a matter of seconds or minutes.

Designed for high-performance computers, MDHIM is a revolutionary software tool that performs more than a billion key/value inserts per second that can be retrieved in key order.

Today, scientists analyze data visually, often turning data into images or even movies. Current simulations on high-performance computers, such as supercomputers, make visualizing data untenable because of the resources required to move, search and analyze all the data at once. MDHIM provides a solution to this complicated problem by identifying, retrieving and analyzing smaller subsets of data.


Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is quickly becoming an essential tool for improving the safety—and efficient maintenance—of critical structures, such as aircraft, pipelines, bridges and dams, buildings and stadiums, pressure vessels, ships, power plants, and mechanical structures such as amusement park rides and wind turbines.

Los Alamos engineers have developed SHMTools, software that provides more than 100 advanced algorithms that can be assembled to quickly prototype and evaluate damage-detection processes. It is a virtual toolbox that can be used to detect damage in various types of structures, from aircraft and buildings to bridges and mechanical infrastructure.

  Nevada National Security Site
 Argus Fisheye Velocimetry ProbeBuilding on technology from the Multiplexed Photonic Doppler Velocimeter, a portable optical velocimetry system that simultaneously measures up to 32 discrete surface velocities onto a single digitizer by multiplexing signals in frequency and time, the Argus Fisheye Probe measures the velocity distribution of an imploding surface along many lines of sight. Laser light, directed and scattered back along each beam on the surface, is collected into the launching fiber. The received light provides a continuous time record. The probe measures surface movement. It is used to better assist scientists in understanding the material behavior in shock physics experiments.
Sandia National Laboratories
LED Pulser

The Sandia LED Pulser uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than lasers to provide rapidly pulsed, multi-color, very bright light for scientific, industrial, or commercial uses, and can be used in applications formerly possible only with far more expensive light sources. Using custom electronic circuitry, it drives high-power LEDs to generate light pulses with shorter duration, higher repetition frequency, and higher intensity than do commercial off-the-shelf LED drivers. The Pulser already has been used in several research studies that helped design and optimize cleaner and more efficient engines, which could, in turn improve local air quality and public health.

  Y-12 National Security Complex
 LISe Thermal Neutron ImagerLTNI was developed through a collaboration with three Tennessee universities. The imager builds upon a lithium crystal that won an R&D 100 Award in 2013. Applications for the imager include research, diagnostics/medical imaging, law enforcement and national security.
Chemical Identification by Magneto-Elastic SensingThe product of a three-year Y-12-university collaboration, ChIMES is an inexpensive, small and portable chemical sensor with virtually limitless applications, including detection of chemical and biological warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, explosives and illegal drugs.
Sep 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

Defense Programs award winners at the National Security CampusMore than 200 individuals from several National Security Campus teams received recognition this week for their work supporting NNSA’s 2014 Defense Programs.

Mark Holecek, KCFO Site Manager, presented the awards in a special ceremony on September 14 to the eight teams, including the KCRIMS Requalification; W87 Filled Elastomer Production; Encapsulation Process for Electronic Assemblies; W80 ALT 369 Firing Set Assembly Reprocessing; B61-12 LEP Trainers Product Realization Team; Surveillance Disassembly; High Speed Video; B61 JTA Modernization; and Header Working Group.The ninth award went to engineer Ellen Kirk for her significant impact to the NSC encapsulation process, including a $1 million cost savings in support of the W76-1 and an operator training program.

The awards recognize on an annual basis the contributions of work performed in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The awards are given for significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety or creativity in support of the nuclear weapons program.

Sep 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm
SNL's Mitch Williams prepares to disassemble the 242 computers
Sandia National Laboratories electronics technologist Mitch Williams prepares the disassembly of 242 computers for delivery to Northern Humboldt Union High School District in McKinleyville, California.


Retired computers used for cybersecurity research at Sandia National Laboratories have found a new life at Northern Humboldt Union High School District in McKinleyville, California.

Thanks to Sandia, 242 computers were donated to the school district to help improve the math and science education curricula in five schools serving seven communities on California’s rural northern coast. The computers also will help improve technical and science education research activities at the district.

The computers were used as virtual machines at Sandia’s California site to emulate large networks of computers. Sandia’s California site ran hundreds to thousands of virtual machines (full instances of an operating system such as Windows) on each physical machine. A cluster of 521 machines could emulate a network of up to half a million computers, as described here.

Click to learn more.

Sep 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

The Cygnus machine

Cygnus, a dual-axis flash X-ray radiography system designed by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and jointly constructed and operated with National Securities Technologies and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), has fired its 3,000th shot. Originally envisioned for a single series of subcritical experiments, Cygnus has been a workhorse for more than a decade. The Aug. 27 milestone shot was performed by a team from the NNSS, SNL and LANL and used surrogate detonators to test the firing system to ensure that signals for diagnostics are correctly timed. The two locomotive-size X-ray machines, Cygnus-1 and Cygnus-2, are 1,000 feet underground.

Sep 11, 2015 at 9:00 am

Savannah River National Laboratory’s F/H Analytical Laboratories have achieved ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, which represents an independent validation of two analytical methods against a set of world-class specifications.

The accreditation was formally awarded by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, a non-profit, non-governmental body that provides world-class accreditation services for testing and calibration laboratories. Learn more here.

Sep 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm