Comprehensive energetic materials development, characterization, and testing are strengths at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Science and technology on the roadmap to MaRIE

New Explosives Center addresses evolving national security mission needs. Building on more than 70 years of nuclear weapons energetic materials science, technology, and engineering expertise, Los Alamos National Laboratory continues to define the field of energetic materials and their characteristics. A new Explosives Center brings together a powerful set of capabilities and expertise for experiments supporting LANL mission areas, which require full-spectrum energetic materials capability and prowess. Through formal agreement between weapons and global security, this new center integrates the high explosives capability at LANL that is supported by and exists in many line and program organizations. These capabilities, vital to the core nuclear weapons mission, are also crucial to the evolving global security missions.

One of the Center’s immediate goals is to ensure success of the ongoing explosives consolidation and modernization plan, which includes consolidated and modernized firing sites and replacement buildings–an explosives “campus.” This core capability investment also plays a vital role in the development of MaRIE. World-leading explosives materials development and characterization capability is central to the grand challenge of controlling materials (including explosive materials) in dynamic extremes—central to MaRIE’s goal of furthering understanding of dynamic materials performance and process-aware manufacturing.

From bench-top to large-scale open-air experimentation, Laboratory researchers use a broad suite of diagnostic, modeling, and simulation capabilities to evaluate nuclear weapon response and performance, as well as a range of scenarios with broad applications, including homemade explosives assessment, lethality, vulnerability, disablement and defeat, aging and surveillance, shock/detonation wave physics, and blast effects. Los Alamos’s expertise plays a critical role in effectively assisting the nation’s nuclear weapons experts, intelligence analysts, homeland security assets, emergency response teams, and military ground forces in detection, disablement, and defeat of a wide variety of energeticmaterials threats.

Laboratory capabilities include:

  • Open-air and confined firing with many types of diagnostics
  • Gas and powder guns
  • Flash x-rays, high-speed cameras, interferometric techniques, magnetic gauging, pyrometry and many more diagnostics
  • Research- and pilot-plant scale formulation, powder production, pressing, crystallization
  • Production facility for war reserve detonators, detonator R&D
  • Synthetic and analytical chemistry Mechanical properties testing
  • Thermal response
  • Microstructural characterization
  • Shock and nonshock initiation
  • Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility
  • Proton Radiography Facility
  • Lujan Neutron Scattering Center
  • Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies
  • Materials Science Laboratory
  • National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
  • Daniel Hooks (Weapon Engineering & Experiments, ADW) is center director and Becky Olinger (Emerging Threats, GS-ET) is associate center director. The Explosives Center, established by ADW and Global Security (PADGS), coordinates activities managed and funded by programs and line organizations across the Laboratory.