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Physics

Shock waves created at NIF mimic astrophysical particle accelerators powered by exploding stars

When stars explode as supernovae, they produce shock waves so powerful they can blast streams of particles called cosmic rays into the universe at nearly the speed of light. Yet the exact mechanisms behind these phenomena remained mysteries for decades. Now, in experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), an international team of scientists from institutions…

Multi-lab research to improve COVID-19 diagnostics

In response to the ongoing need for COVID-19 testing, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) biologists are part of a collaborative research effort focused on improving the speed and accuracy of diagnostic tests, while enhancing the ability to adapt diagnostic tools as the virus evolves. Currently, the fastest way to identify known pathogens is by using a DNA-based…

Checking out iron under pressure

Iron is the most stable and heaviest chemical element produced by nucleosynthesis in stars, making it the most abundant heavy element in the universe and in the interiors of Earth and other rocky planets. To get a better understanding of the high-pressure behavior of iron, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist and international collaborators discovered…

NIF’s TARDIS Featured in Review of Scientific Instruments

A paper describing the design and performance of a workhorse NIF experimental platform known as TARDIS was a featured article in a recent edition of the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

Angled Fill-Tubes Aid Quest to Raise NIF’s Implosion Performance

The tiny fill-tube used to inject NIF’s high-density carbon capsules with cryogenic fuel is also known to reduce the performance of implosions, and LLNL researchers are exploring several methods that could diminish these negative effects.

Special journal issue highlights the work of LLNL energetic materials researchers

A special issue of the journal Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics was recently released that highlights multiscale modeling and experiments, an area of energetic materials science and technology in which LLNL researchers have played a leading role for some time. The issue features the work of MSD’s Keo Springer, Will Bassett, Sorin Bastea, Svjetlana Stekovic,…

ARC results provide a ‘pleasant surprise’

When scientists saw the results from the first-ever Discovery Science experiment on the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) laser, they were genuinely surprised: The experiment produced much higher energy electrons than predicted based on the laser energy and power used on these shots. Those results, which were not typical of new…

Lab physicist awarded 2020 dissertation prize

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Natalie Hell has been awarded the 2020 Dissertation Prize from the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Hell received the prize for her outstanding experimental doctoral dissertation in laboratory astrophysics. Her thesis, “Benchmarking Transition Energies and Emission…

Focusing target gives powerful boost to NIF’s ARC

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have employed compound parabolic targets to achieve relativistic effects associated with significantly greater laser intensities. This innovation has substantially expanded the experimental capabilities of the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) laser. The targets, called…

Important plutonium property calculated for the first time

Lattice vibrations (phonons) are important for all equation-of-state modeling. A recent paper by PLS researchers Per Söderlind and Lin Yang (both PHYS) describes results from the first-ever calculation of α-plutonium phonon density of states. The first-principles model agrees very well with the results of x-ray scattering experiments. Further, the calculated specific heat…

Livermore researchers contribute to major plutonium publication

This fall, the American Nuclear Society is publishing the second edition of the Plutonium Handbook, a 4000-page, 7-volume compendium that delivers a comprehensive review of plutonium chemistry. (The first edition was published 50 years ago.) Five years in the making, this publication includes contributions from 17 Lawrence Livermore researchers, two of whom are also on the…

Summer scholar reels in ‘STRIPED FISH’ for NIF

In high school, Liz Grace thought physics was boring and instead considered studying psychology or music. But then a college professor inspired Grace to see the wonders of physics. Today, as a National Ignition Facility (NIF) & Photon Science Summer Scholar, she’s helping to design and build a diagnostic instrument that could become a revolutionary measurement tool for…

PLS wraps up summer student programs

Approximately 1000 students came to the Laboratory this summer to engage in work-study employment in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and administrative fields. PLS hosted a number of these students through its summer student programs (described below). Nuclear science and security The Glenn T. Seaborg Institute hosted 12 students this summer, including 8…

Improving the coherence of superconducting circuits

In an ideal superconducting quantum computer, the underlying quantum bits (qubits) are isolated from the noisy environment with no energy loss to mechanical or vibrational modes. However, in the real world, amorphous materials and material interfaces have defect states that cause qubits to lose their energy through vibrations and interactions with the surrounding…

Big Data Illuminates the Physical Sciences

Astrophysics is a growth area in the Laboratory’s advancement of basic science for national and global security needs. In this field, data science helps researchers catalog and interpret objects orbiting Earth and process huge volumes of data captured by ground- and space-based telescopes.

Shedding light on electron–laser interactions

When an electron encounters a laser pulse, it “wiggles” and radiates electromagnetic waves. As simple as this may sound, scientists have long struggled with an unresolved question: is the radiation energy provided by the laser or the electron? At low laser intensity, it has been experimentally confirmed that the radiation energy is entirely provided by the laser, while at…

Multilayer coatings for hard x rays

Multilayer interference mirrors are enabling components in x-ray optical systems. These mirrors consist of periodic or non-periodic structures of alternating thin film layers of two or more materials deposited on an optical substrate. Today’s applications and experimental facilities (including the National Ignition Facility) require novel, multilayer-based hard x-ray…

Sustained nuclear fusion in the Z pinch concept

Controlling nuclear fusion for power production is expected to require large and expensive magnetic coils or laser systems to create, heat, confine, and control the hot plasma needed to sustain fusion reactions. The idea of directly driving a column of plasma with an electrical discharge, known as Z pinch, was a simple and early method envisioned as a possible path to…

Probing silver nanocrystal superlattices

Typically, superlattices—faceted crystals composed of nanocrystal building blocks—have been made using slow evaporative techniques that often take days to weeks to form highly crystalline solids. This process is difficult to control, which has made it hard to systematically tune film properties and has hindered quantitative study of the assembly process. To overcome these…

Five researchers named to '40 Under 40' list

Five Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers join an eclectic group of entrepreneurs, writers, executives, philanthropists and more on Diablo Magazine’s annual "40 Under 40" list, which recognizes young professionals in the East Bay who are leading the charge in their fields. Louisa Pickworth, an experimental physicist and group leader in the Physics…