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Sandia National Laboratories’ Alec Talin inspects a silicon chip coated with a thin oxide layer, an array of platinum electrodes and a MOF film. Optical absorption and interference in the MOF and silicon-dioxide layers give it the deep blue color.

Research work performed at NNSA’s national laboratories generates fervor among scientists worldwide because it produces new technologies that are already proven and applied within the nuclear weapons program. By publishing their research findings, NNSA’s scientists encourage what can be called “passive tech transfer.”

Recently published work from a team of NNSA researchers won an award for its innovation, and perfectly embodies the way technology developed for the nuclear enterprise benefits other industries.

Sandia National Laboratories researcher Paul Vianco and his team from Sandia and Kansas City National Security Campus won an award for work on thin films, nanometer-thick layers of metal. The research enables technologies using specifically defined, precision electrical circuits.

Instead of a copper conductor circuit, a thin film patterned into a circuit provides finer lines and spaces, so the electronic component can be made smaller and do more at the same time. Smaller components weigh less and use less power.

The thin films technology could have significant potential for sensors and communications electronics, which is why the research was funded through Sandia’s and Kansas City’s stockpile stewardship programs.

“[The collaboration] significantly enhanced the ability of Sandia to design new components and of KCNSC to fabricate them into high-reliability products,” he said. “Publishing the results made the data available to the U.S. electronics industry.”

The award-winning research helps provide a way to define assembly processes and determine the long-term reliability of circuitry for critical, high-frequency components that absolutely must be safe, secure and reliable, like those used in nuclear weapons.

Since the 1970s, “folks ate up” research presented at technical conferences, Vianco said, because “they could take it back to their companies and put it directly to use on their products.”

“For those who never thought of using thin film,” Vianco said, “those folks are saying, ‘Maybe now we do know enough about this technology to try it on our products.’”

Sandia National Laboratories researcher Paul Vianco works on thin films, nanometer-thick layers of metal that can be defined into precision electrical circuits.

First Lady Michelle Obama praised the 2016 graduates of Santa Fe Indian School, which has long had a close relationship with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For nearly 20 years, the Department of Energy and NNSA have provided financial support and other resources to the Santa Fe Indian School, a day and boarding school owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.

Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama served as commencement speaker for the school’s 2016 graduating class, where she made special mention of the school’s science and technology prowess.

“Over the years, you all have proudly represented this school in chess tournaments, and science and robotics competitions, and every kind of internship and leadership conference imaginable,” she told the graduates. “And nearly all of you are going on to college.  And … you've earned more than $5 million in scholarships this year.  That is breathtaking – breathtaking.”

Like the First Lady’s commencement address, NNSA’s support for education of tribal youth is part of the federal commitment to advance science, technology, engineering, and math education in rural and under-represented communities. 

NNSA team members, as part of a STEM-centric organization, are especially invested in the future of students at Santa Fe Indian School. Over the past year, NNSA team members at Los Alamos National Laboratory have provided more than $36,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education, volunteered more than 675 hours toward STEM initiatives at the school, and hosted hundreds of Santa Fe Indian School students at the lab for tours, presentations, and internships.

Founded in 1890 as a federal off-reservation boarding school, the Santa Fe Indian School enrolls students from federally recognized tribes across the country.  As part of the Santa Fe Indian School Act, the school builds its curriculum based on educational sovereignty – the right and responsibility to educate New Mexico Indian children in a manner that supports American Indian culture and traditional belief systems.

As a whole, DOE and NNSA have provided financial support and other resources, including internships and teacher training, to the school’s Community Based Education program for two decades. The program engages surrounding Pueblo communities as equal partners with the school in the education of their children.

Learn more about the White House STEM initiative for tribal and underrepresented youth, and read how DOE and NNSA are taking part.

CTBT surrogate inspectors and other inspection experts visited the Nevada National Security Site, a former nuclear explosive test site. Here they are pictured on the edge of the Sedan Crater.

This month, NNSA hosted a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on-site inspection activity at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). For the first time, CTBT surrogate inspectors and other inspection experts were able to visit NNSS, a former nuclear explosive test site that now supports a number of scientific and technical operations for NNSA’s science-based Stockpile Stewardship and nuclear nonproliferation missions.

The on-site inspection representatives spent three days observing the indicators caused by past nuclear explosive tests, as well as seeing current field experimental operations at NNSS. The CTBT inspection-familiarization activity was a rare opportunity for experts from more than 30 countries to tour such a test site. This event and others makes CTBT on-site inspection experts better able to do their jobs: detecting nuclear explosions under the treaty’s monitoring and verification requirements.

Participants discussed how NNSS and other former nuclear explosive test sites could improve CTBT on-site inspection training.The group also spent two days in Las Vegas, touring the National Atomic Testing Museum and discussing how NNSS and other former nuclear explosive test sites could improve CTBT on-site inspection training. NNSA and other U.S. agencies will assess the activity’s results to see how best to use NNSS and other unique locations, assets, and capabilities to further contribute to global nuclear security and international cooperation.

“We are proud to be highlighting not only the legacy of the Nevada National Security Site, but also the transformation of the site into an experimental test bed and training ground for critical national security missions including Stockpile Stewardship, homeland security, and nonproliferation and arms control,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Inviting the CTBT on-site inspection experts to NNSS for training allows us to make valuable contributions in strengthening the capabilities to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing around the world.”

This initiative is one of many contributions the United States makes to CTBT on-site inspection efforts. U.S. experts played a significant role in the planning and execution of the large-scale Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan. In June 2015, at the CTBT Science and Technology 2015 Conference, NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz announced that the agency would “facilitate making NNSS available to future classes of on-site inspectors in order to enrich their training and experience.”

“The U.S. contributions to the (on-site inspection) effort have been substantial, not only by recently hosting us in Nevada. U.S. relevant experience allows U.S. experts to pass along their knowledge to future inspectors who will be ready to find evidence of a nuclear explosion in breach of the CTBT, once the Treaty enters into force. We need to make sure these international experts are as well qualified and trained as possible, and coming to Nevada to see the effects from real nuclear explosions in a variety of geologies has been a tremendous experience for our surrogate inspectors,” said Oleg Rozhkov, On-Side Inspection Division Director at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission.

NNSS staff, along with experts from Los Alamos National Laboratory , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories all contributed to the success of the activity.

The group also spent two days in Las Vegas, touring the National Atomic Testing Museum.

We are delighted to announce two key personnel changes.

Jay TildenMr. Jay Tilden has officially been appointed as the Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation.  Jay has been the Acting Associate Administrator since Steve Aoki’s departure at the end of last year.  As you know, the mission of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation is to prepare for, respond to, and successfully resolve nuclear and radiological accidents and incidents worldwide.

Jay brings significant experience and expertise to this mission.  Previously, he served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the same office.  He also has been the Director of the Office of Nuclear Threat Science (formerly the Office of Nuclear Counterterrorism); the Intelligence and Security Advisor to the Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism; director of the Counterterrorism Division (CTD) within the Energy Department’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; and an intelligence and program analyst for the Office of Security Policy advising on Design Basis Threat policies for the Department.  Jay is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer and served in both active and reserve capacities including Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom/Noble Eagle.  He graduated from the University of Maryland and completed post-graduate studies in strategic intelligence from DIA’s Joint Military Intelligence College.

Dr. Dave Bowman has been named permanent Deputy Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism & Counterproliferation.  Dave has been the Acting Deputy since the beginning of the year.  Dave previously served as the Director for the DOE/NNSA Office of Nuclear Incident Response.  This Office is responsible for staffing, training, equipping, and exercising the Department’s response teams in the areas of nuclear/radiological search, render safe, and consequence management.  From 2009-2011, Dave was the Deputy Director for the Office and he served as the DOE/NNSA Consequence Management Program Manager from 2005-2009.  Prior to his employment at DOE Headquarters, he was a radiological emergency responder, senior scientist, and project manager at the Remote Sensing Laboratories in Las Vegas, Nevada, and at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.  Dr. Bowman received a Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and is recognized by the American Academy of Health Physicists as a Certified Health Physicist.

We congratulate both Jay and Dave on their new appointments and look forward to their contributions to NNSA for years to come.

Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon

“Mission First, People Always”

Y-12 recently recognized 29 inventors at their annual Tech Transfer award ceremony. The group was awarded 13 patents and submitted more than 30 invention disclosures in the past year.

OAK RIDGE, Tennessee – Twenty-nine Y‑12 inventors were recognized for their technology and innovative accomplishments during the recent 12th annual Technology Transfer Awards Ceremony. The site has a long history of producing technologies initially used at Y-12 and later transferred to the private sector.

Thirteen patents were awarded in FY15 in areas ranging from a wireless sensor for detecting chemical compounds to an apparatus for safeguarding a radiological source. 

The inventors also were recognized for bringing forward new ideas in the form of invention disclosures that could one day lead to future patents. These employees were acknowledged for both their creativity and innovative ideas in support of the technology development and transfer mission. The new inventions developed by the honorees will be used to further Y-12’s mission work and will be made available to license to benefit the public through Y-12’s Technology Transfer program.

Read more about the winners at this link.