Article: Inside The Secret Government And Private Industry Labs We Get To Work In


Some of Scott's lab projects, (below):

The toxic exposure from radioactive materials, micro-fine chemical powders, high-frequency energy generators and skin induction chemistry components is one of the tricky parts of 'building the future'.

(Note: Information below is sourced from publicly avialable news sources and does not disclose Q-Sensitive data)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California, Berkeley in 1952. It is controlled by the United States Department of Energy and funded by taxpayer funds via various funding buckets. The Secretary of Energy of The United States Department of Energy was the Head of the Lawrence Livermore Labs. The most exotic terrestrial and space-sourced energy and weapons technologies in the world are developed and experimented on in these facilities. Originally a branch of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore laboratory became autonomous in 1971 and was designated a national laboratory in 1981.[1]

A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), Lawrence Livermore lab is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System.[2] In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium (element 116) named after it.


Aerial view of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

LLNL is self-described as a "premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security."[3] Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering, and technology. The laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities towards preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security, and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental needs, scientific research and outreach, and economic competitiveness.

The laboratory is located on a 1 sq. mi.(2.6 km2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site known as Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 8,000 employees.



LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.[4]

The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

Lawrence tapped his former graduate student Herbert York, age 32, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the Los Alamos and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence "big science" approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university's board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

Historically, the Berkeley and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL's remote test location as Site 300.[5]


The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.[6] The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for "reasonable cause."[7] The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial.[8] There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS.[9] The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.[8]

On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city's boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore's southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.

Major projects

Nuclear weapons

From its inception, Livermore focused on new weapon design concepts; as a result, its first three nuclear tests were unsuccessful. The lab persevered and its subsequent designs proved increasingly successful. In 1957, the Livermore Lab was selected to develop the warhead for the Navy's Polaris missile. This warhead required numerous innovations to fit a nuclear warhead into the relatively small confines of the missile nosecone.[10]

During the Cold War, many Livermore-designed warheads entered service. These were used in missiles ranging in size from the Lance surface-to-surface tactical missile to the megaton-class Spartan antiballistic missile. Over the years, LLNL designed the following warheads: W27 (Regulus cruise missile; 1955; joint with Los Alamos), W38 (Atlas/Titan ICBM; 1959), B41 (B52 bomb; 1957), W45 (Little John/Terrier missiles; 1956), W47 (Polaris SLBM; 1957), W48 (155-mm howitzer; 1957), W55 (submarine rocket; 1959), W56 (Minuteman ICBM; 1960), W58 (Polaris SLBM; 1960), W62 (Minuteman ICBM; 1964), W68 (Poseidon SLBM; 1966), W70 (Lance missile; 1969), W71 (Spartan missile; 1968), W79 (8-in. artillery gun; 1975), W82 (155-mm howitzer; 1978), B83 (modern strategic bomb; 1979), and W87 (LGM-118 Peacekeeper/MX ICBM; 1982). The W87 and the B83 are the only LLNL designs still in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.[11][12][13]

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, the United States began a moratorium on nuclear testing and development of new nuclear weapon designs. To sustain existing warheads for the indefinite future, a science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) was defined that emphasized the development and application of greatly improved technical capabilities to assess the safety, security, and reliability of existing nuclear warheads without the use of nuclear testing. Confidence in the performance of weapons, without nuclear testing, is maintained through an ongoing process of stockpile surveillance, assessment and certification, and refurbishment or weapon replacement.[citation needed]

With no new designs of nuclear weapons, the warheads in the U.S. stockpile must continue to function far past their original expected lifetimes. As components and materials age, problems can arise. Stockpile Life Extension Programs can extend system lifetimes, but they also can introduce performance uncertainties and require maintenance of outdated technologies and materials. Because there is concern that it will become increasingly difficult to maintain high confidence in the current warheads for the long term, the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration initiated the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) Program. RRW designs could reduce uncertainties, ease maintenance demands, and enhance safety and security. In March 2007, the LLNL design was chosen for the Reliable Replacement Warhead.[14] Since that time, Congress has not allocated funding for any further development of the RRW.

Plutonium research

LLNL conducts research into the properties and behavior of plutonium to learn how plutonium performs as it ages and how it behaves under high pressure (e.g., with the impact of high explosives). Plutonium has seven temperature-dependent solid allotropes. Each possesses a different density and crystal structure. Alloys of plutonium are even more complex; multiple phases can be present in a sample at any given time. Experiments are being conducted at LLNL and elsewhere to measure the structural, electrical and chemical properties of plutonium and its alloys and to determine how these materials change over time. Such measurements will enable scientists to better model and predict plutonium's long-term behavior in the aging stockpile.[15]

The Lab's plutonium research is conducted in a specially designed facility called the SuperBlock, with emphasis on safety and security. Work with highly enriched uranium is also conducted here. In March 2008, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) presented its preferred alternative for the transformation of the nation's nuclear weapons complex. Under this plan, LLNL would be a center of excellence for nuclear design and engineering, a center of excellence for high explosive research and development, and a science magnet in high-energy-density (i.e., laser) physics. In addition, most of its special nuclear material would be removed and consolidated at a more central, yet-to-be-named site.[16]

On September 30, 2009, the NNSA announced that about two thirds of the special nuclear material (e.g., plutonium) at LLNL requiring the highest level of security protection had been removed from LLNL. The move was part of NNSA's efforts initiated in October 2006 to consolidate special nuclear material at five sites by 2012, with significantly reduced square footage at those sites by 2017. The federally mandated project intends to improve security and reduce security costs, and is part of NNSA's overall effort to transform the Cold War era "nuclear weapons" enterprise into a 21st-century "nuclear security" enterprise. The original date to remove all high-security nuclear material from LLNL, based on equipment capability and capacity, was 2014. NNSA and LLNL developed a timeline to remove this material as early as possible, accelerating the target completion date to 2012.[17]

Global security program

The Lab's work in global security aims to reduce and mitigate the dangers posed by the spread or use of weapons of mass destruction and by threats to energy and environmental security. Livermore has been working on global security and homeland security for decades, predating both the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. LLNL staff have been heavily involved in the cooperative nonproliferation programs with Russia to secure at-risk weapons materials and assist former weapons workers in developing peaceful applications and self-sustaining job opportunities for their expertise and technologies.[18] In the mid-1990s, Lab scientists began efforts to devise improved biodetection capabilities, leading to miniaturized and autonomous instruments that can detect biothreat agents in a few minutes instead of the days to weeks previously required for DNA analysis.[19][20]

Today, Livermore researchers address a spectrum of threats – radiological/nuclear, chemical, biological, explosives, and cyber. They combine physical and life sciences, engineering, computations, and analysis to develop technologies that solve real-world problems. Activities are grouped into five programs:

  • Nonproliferation. Preventing the spread of materials, technology and expertise related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and detecting WMD proliferation activities worldwide.[21]
  • Domestic security: Anticipating, innovating and delivering technological solutions to prevent and mitigate devastating high-leverage attacks on U.S. soil.[22][23][24][25]
  • Defense: Developing and demonstrating new concepts and capabilities to help the Department of Defense prevent and deter harm to the nation, its citizens and its military forces.[26][27]
  • Intelligence: Working at the intersection of science, technology and analysis to provide insight into the threats to national security posed by foreign entities.[28]
  • Energy and environmental security: Furnishing scientific understanding and technological expertise to devise energy and environmental solutions at global, regional and local scales.[29][30]

Other programs

LLNL supports capabilities in a broad range of scientific and technical disciplines, applying current capabilities to existing programs and developing new science and technologies to meet future national needs.

  • The LLNL chemistry, materials, and life science research focuses on chemical engineering, nuclear chemistry, materials science, and biology and bio-nanotechnology.
  • Physics thrust areas include condensed matter and high-pressure physics, optical science and high energy density physics, medical physics and biophysics, and nuclear, particle and accelerator physics.
  • In the area of energy and environmental science, Livermore's emphasis is on carbon and climate, energy, water and the environment, and the national nuclear waste repository.
  • The LLNL engineering activities include micro- and nanotechnology, lasers and optics, biotechnology, precision engineering, nondestructive characterization, modeling and simulation, systems and decision science, and sensors, imaging and communications.
  • The LLNL is very strong in computer science, with thrust areas in computing applications and research, integrated computing and communications systems, and cyber security.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has worked out several energy technologies in the field of coal gasification, shale oil extraction, geothermal energy, advanced battery research, solar energy, and fusion energy. Main oil shale processing technologies worked out by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are LLNL HRS (hot-recycled-solid), LLNL RISE (in situ extraction technology) and LLNL radiofrequency technologies.[31]

Key accomplishments

Over its 60-year history, Lawrence Livermore has made many scientific and technological achievements, including:

On July 17, 2009 LLNL announced that the Laboratory had received eight R&D 100 Awards – more than it had ever received in the annual competition. The previous LLNL record of seven awards was reached five times – in 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998 and 2006.

Also known as the "Oscars of invention," the awards are given each year for the development of cutting-edge scientific and engineering technologies with commercial potential. The awards raise LLNL's total number of awards since 1978 to 129.

On October 12, 2016, LLNL released the results of computerized modeling of Mars's moon Phobos, finding that it has a connection with keeping the Earth safe from asteroids.[32]

Key facilities


  • Biosecurity and Nanoscience Laboratory. Researchers apply advances in nanoscience to develop novel technologies for the detection, identification, and characterization of harmful biological pathogens (viruses, spores, and bacteria) and chemical toxins.
  • Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry: LLNL's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) develops and applies a wide range of isotopic and ion-beam analytical tools used in basic research and technology development, addressing a spectrum of scientific needs important to the Laboratory, the university community, and the nation. CAMS is the world's most versatile and productive accelerator mass spectrometry facility, performing more than 25,000 AMS measurement operations per year.
  • High Explosives Applications Facility and Energetic Materials Center: At HEAF, teams of scientists, engineers, and technicians address nearly all aspects of high explosives: research, development and testing, material characterization, and performance and safety tests. HEAF activities support the Laboratory's Energetic Materials Center, a national resource for research and development of explosives, pyrotechnics, and propellants.
  • National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center: NARAC is a national support and resource center for planning, real-time assessment, emergency response, and detailed studies of incidents involving a wide variety of hazards, including nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, and natural atmospheric emissions.
  • National Ignition Facility: This 192-beam, stadium-size laser system is used to compress fusion targets to conditions required for thermonuclear burn. Experiments at NIF study physical processes at conditions that exist only in the interior of stars and in exploding nuclear weapons (see National Ignition Facility and photon science).
  • Superblock: This unique high-security facility houses modern equipment for research and engineering testing of nuclear materials and is the place where plutonium expertise is developed, nurtured, and applied. Research on highly enriched uranium also is performed here.
  • Livermore Computing Complex: LLNL's Livermore Computing Complex houses some of the world's most powerful computers, including the 20 petaflop Sequoia, the 5-petaflop Vulcan system; Jade and Quartz systems at 3 petaflops each; the 970-teraflop Zin system; 431-teraflop Cab system; and additional large multi-core, multi-socket Linux clusters with various processor types. The newest machine, Sierra, occupied the No. 3 position on the TOP500 list in June 2018.[33] The complex has nearly 10,000 square feet of machine floor space, supporting both classified and unclassified national security programs.
  • Titan Laser: Titan is a combined nanosecond-long pulse and ultrashort-pulse (subpicosecond) laser, with hundreds of joules of energy in each beam. This petawatt-class laser is used for a range of high-energy density physics experiments, including the science of fast ignition for inertial confinement fusion energy.

Largest computers

Throughout its history, LLNL has been a leader in computers and scientific computing. Even before the Livermore Lab opened its doors, E.O. Lawrence and Edward Teller recognized the importance of computing and the potential of computational simulation. Their purchase of one of the first UNIVAC computers set the precedent for LLNL's history of acquiring and exploiting the fastest and most capable supercomputers in the world. A succession of increasingly powerful and fast computers have been used at the Lab over the years. LLNL researchers use supercomputers to answer questions about subjects such as materials science simulations, global warming, and reactions to natural disasters.

LLNL has a long history of developing computing software and systems. Initially, there was no commercially available software, and computer manufacturers considered it the customer's responsibility to develop their own. Users of the early computers had to write not only the codes to solve their technical problems, but also the routines to run the machines themselves. Today, LLNL computer scientists focus on creating the highly complex physics models, visualization codes, and other unique applications tailored to specific research requirements. A great deal of software also has been written by LLNL personnel to optimize the operation and management of the computer systems, including operating system extensions such as CHAOS (Linux Clustering) and resource management packages such as SLURM.[34] LLNL also initiated and continues leading the development of ZFS on Linux, the official port of ZFS to the Linux operating system.[35][36]

Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC)

In August 2009 a joint venture was announced between Sandia National Laboratories/California campus and LLNL to create an open, unclassified research and development space called the Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC). The motivation for the LVOC stems from current and future national security challenges that require increased coupling to the private sector to understand threats and deploy solutions in areas such as high performance computing, energy and environmental security, cyber security, economic security, and non-proliferation.

The LVOC is modeled after research and development campuses found at major industrial research parks and other U.S. Department of Energy laboratories with campus-like security, a set of business and operating rules devised to enhance and accelerate international scientific collaboration and partnerships with U.S. government agencies, industry and academia. Ultimately, the LVOC will consist of an approximately 110-acre parcel along the eastern edge of the Livermore Laboratory and Sandia sites, and will house additional conference space, collaboration facilities and a visitor's center to support educational and research activities.

Objectives of LVOC

  • Enhance the two laboratories' national security missions by substantially increasing engagement with the private sector and academic community.
  • Stay at the forefront of the science, technology and engineering fields.
  • Ensure a quality future workforce by expanding opportunities for open engagement of the broader scientific community.


LLNL's principal sponsor is the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Office of Defense Programs, which supports its stockpile stewardship and advanced scientific computing programs. Funding to support LLNL's global security and homeland security work comes from the DOE/NNSA Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. LLNL also receives funding from DOE's Office of Science, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, and Office of Nuclear Energy. In addition, LLNL conducts work-for-others research and development for various Defense Department sponsors, other federal agencies, including NASA, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), National Institutes of Health, and Environmental Protection Agency, a number of California State agencies, and private industry.[citation needed]


For Fiscal Year 2009 LLNL spent $1.497 billion[37] on research and laboratory operations activities:

Research/Science Budget:

  • National Ignition Facility – $301.1 million
  • Nuclear Weapon Deterrent (Safety/Security/Reliability) – $227.2 million
  • Advance Simulation and Computing – $221.9 million
  • Nonproliferation – $152.2 million
  • Department of Defense – $125.9 million
  • Basic and Applied Science – $86.6 million
  • Homeland Security – $83.9 million
  • Energy – $22.4 million

Site Management/Operations Budget:

  • Safeguards/Security – $126.5 million
  • Facility Operations – $118.2 million
  • Environmental Restoration – $27.3 million


The LLNL Director is appointed by the board of governors of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS) and reports to the board. The laboratory director also serves as the president of LLNS. Over the course of its history, the following scientists have served as LLNL director:


The LLNL Director is supported by a senior executive team consisting of the Deputy Director, the Deputy Director for Science and Technology, Principal Associate Directors, and other senior executives who manage areas/functions directly reporting to the Laboratory Director.

The Directors Office is organized into these functional areas/offices:

  • Chief Information Office
  • Contractor Assurance and Continuous Improvement
  • Environment, Safety and Health
  • Government and External Relations
  • Independent Audit and Oversight
  • Office of General Counsel
  • Prime Contract Management Office
  • Quality Assurance Office
  • Security Organization
  • LLNS, LLC Parent Oversight Office

The Laboratory is organized into four principal directorates, each headed by a Principal Associate Director:

  • Global Security
  • Weapons and Complex Integration
  • National Ignition Facility and Photon Science
  • Operations and Business
    • Business
    • Facilities & Infrastructure
    • Institutional Facilities Management
    • Integrated Safety Management System Project Office
    • Nuclear Operations
    • Planning and Financial Management
    • Staff Relations
    • Strategic Human Resources Management

Three other directorates are each headed by an Associate Director who reports to the LLNL Director:

  • Computation
  • Engineering
  • Physical & Life Sciences

Corporate management

The LLNL Director reports to the Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS) Board of Governors, a group of key scientific, academic, national security and business leaders from the LLNS partner companies that jointly own and control LLNS. The LLNS Board of Governors has a total of 16 positions, with six of these Governors constituting an Executive Committee. All decisions of the Board are made by the Governors on the Executive Committee. The other Governors are advisory to the Executive Committee and do not have voting rights.

The University of California is entitled to appoint three Governors to the Executive Committee, including the Chair. Bechtel is also entitled to appoint three Governors to the Executive Committee, including the Vice Chair. One of the Bechtel Governors must be a representative of Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) or the Washington Division of URS Corporation (URS), who is nominated jointly by B&W and URS each year, and who must be approved and appointed by Bechtel. The Executive Committee has a seventh Governor who is appointed by Battelle; they are non-voting and advisory to the Executive Committee. The remaining Board positions are known as Independent Governors (also referred to as Outside Governors), and are selected from among individuals, preferably of national stature, and can not be employees or officers of the partner companies.

The University of California-appointed Chair has tie-breaking authority over most decisions of the Executive Committee. The Board of Governors is the ultimate governing body of LLNS and is charged with overseeing the affairs of LLNS in its operations and management of LLNL.

LLNS managers and employees who work at LLNL, up to and including the President/Laboratory Director, are generally referred to as Laboratory Employees. All Laboratory Employees report directly or indirectly to the LLNS President. While most of the work performed by LLNL is funded by the federal government, Laboratory employees are paid by LLNS which is responsible for all aspects of their employment including providing health care benefits and retirement programs.

Within the Board of Governors, authority resides in the Executive Committee to exercise all rights, powers, and authorities of LLNS, excepting only certain decisions that are reserved to the parent companies. The LLNS Executive Committee is free to appoint officers or other managers of LLNS and LLNL, and may delegate its authorities as it deems appropriate to such officers, employees, or other representatives of LLNS/LLNL. The Executive Committee may also retain auditors, attorneys, or other professionals as necessary. For the most part the Executive Committee has appointed senior managers at LLNL as the primary officers of LLNS. As a practical matter most operational decisions are delegated to the President of LLNS, who is also the Laboratory Director. The positions of President/Laboratory Director and Deputy Laboratory Director are filled by joint action of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee, with the University of California nominating the President/Laboratory Director and Bechtel nominating the Deputy Laboratory Director.[42]

The current LLNS Chairman is Norman J. Pattiz, founder and chairman of Westwood One, America's largest radio network, who also currently serves on the Board of Regents of the University of California. The Vice Chairman is J. Scott Ogilvie, president of Bechtel Systems & Infrastructure, Inc., who also serves on the Board of Directors of Bechtel Group, Inc. (BGI) and on the BGI Audit Committee.[43]

Public protests

The Livermore Action Group organized many mass protests, from 1981 to 1984, against nuclear weapons which were being produced by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Peace activists Ken Nightingale and Eldred Schneider were involved.[44] On June 22, 1982, more than 1,300 anti-nuclear protesters were arrested in a nonviolent demonstration.[45] More recently, there has been an annual protest against nuclear weapons research at Lawrence Livermore. In August 2003, 1,000 people protested at Livermore Labs against "new-generation nuclear warheads".[46] In the 2007 protest, 64 people were arrested.[47] More than 80 people were arrested in March 2008 while protesting at the gates.[48]

See also


  1. "Scores arrested during protest at Livermore Lab". Oakland Tribune. March 22, 2008.




The Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.[5]

It is Sandia's mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States' nuclear weapons program's hazardous waste. Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology, mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute), materials science, alternative energy, psychology, MEMS, and cognitive science initiatives. Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world's fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm, originally known as Thor's Hammer. Sandia is also home to the Z Machine. The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.[6][7][8][3]

Lab history

One of Sandia's first permanent buildings (Building 800) was completed in 1949

Sandia National Laboratories' roots go back to World War II and the Manhattan Project. Prior to the United States formally entering the war, the U.S. Army leased land near an Albuquerque, New Mexico airport known as Oxnard Field, to service transient Army and U.S. Navy aircraft. In January 1941 construction began on the Albuquerque Army Air Base, leading to establishment of the Bombardier School-Army Advanced Flying School near the end of the year. Soon thereafter it was renamed Kirtland Field, after early Army military pilot Colonel Roy C. Kirtland, and in mid-1942 the Army acquired Oxnard Field. During the war years facilities were expanded further and Kirtland Field served as a major Army Air Forces training installation.

In the many months leading up to successful detonation of the first atomic bomb, the Trinity test, and delivery of the first airborne atomic weapon, Project Alberta, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of Los Alamos Laboratory, and his technical advisor, Hartly Rowe, began looking for a new site convenient to Los Alamos for the continuation of weapons development – especially its non-nuclear aspects. They felt a separate division would be best to perform these functions. Kirtland had fulfilled Los Alamos' transportation needs for both the Trinity and Alberta projects, thus, Oxnard Field was transferred from the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps to the U.S. Army Service Forces Chief of Engineer District, and thereafter, assigned to the Manhattan Engineer District. In July 1945, the forerunner of Sandia Laboratory, known as "Z" Division, was established at Oxnard Field to handle future weapons development, testing, and bomb assembly for the Manhattan Engineer District. The District-directive calling for establishing a secure area and construction of "Z" Division facilities referred to this as "Sandia Base" , after the nearby Sandia Mountains — apparently the first official recognition of the "Sandia" name.

Lab directors and presidents
Name Tenure
James S. Peery January 2020–[2]
Stephen Younger May 2017
–December 2019[3]
Jill M. Hruby July 2015
–May 2017[9][10]
Paul Hommert July 2010
–July 2015[11][10]
Thomas Hunter April 2005
–July 2010[12]
C. Paul Robinson August 1995
–April 2005[13]
Albert Narath 1989–1995[14]
Irwin Welber February 1986
–March 1989[15][16]
George C. Dacey August 1981
–January 1986[15][17]
Morgan Sparks October 1972
–July 1981[15][18]
John A. Hornbeck November 1966
–September 1972[15]
Siegmund P. "Monk" Schwartz September 1960
–October 1966[15]
Julius Molnar October 1958
–August 1960[15]
James W. McRae September 1953
–September 1958[15]
Donald A. Quarles March 1952
–August 1953[15]
George Landry October 1949
–February 1952[15]

Sandia Laboratory was operated by the University of California until 1949, when President Harry S. Truman asked Western Electric, a subsidiary of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), to assume the operation as an "opportunity to render an exceptional service in the national interest." Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Electric, was formed on October 5, 1949, and, on November 1, 1949, took over management of the Laboratory.[19] The United States Congress designated Sandia Laboratories as a National laboratory in 1979. In October 1993, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) was managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. As of May 2017, management of Sandia National Laboratory transitioned to National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International,[6][7][8][3][20] covering government-owned facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico (SNL/NM); Livermore, California (SNL/CA); Tonopah, Nevada; Shoreview, Minnesota; and Kauai, Hawaii. SNL/NM is headquarters and the largest laboratory, employing more than 6,600 employees, while SNL/CA is a smaller laboratory, with about 850 employees. Tonopah and Kauai are occupied on a "campaign" basis, as test schedules dictate.

Sandia led a project that studied how to decontaminate a subway system in the event of a biological weapons attack (such as anthrax). As of September 2017, the process to decontaminate subways in such an event is "virtually ready to implement," said a lead Sandia engineer.[21]

Legal issues

On February 13, 2007, a New Mexico State Court found Sandia Corporation liable for $4.7 million in damages for the firing of a former network security analyst, Shawn Carpenter, who had reported to his supervisors that hundreds of military installations and defense contractors' networks were compromised and sensitive information was being stolen – including hundreds of sensitive Lockheed documents on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project. When his supervisors told him to drop the investigation and do nothing with the information, he went to intelligence officials in the United States Army and later the Federal Bureau of Investigation to address the national security breaches. When Sandia managers discovered his actions months later, they revoked his security clearance and fired him.[22]

In 2014 an investigation determined Sandia Corp. used lab operations funds to pay for lobbying related to the renewal of its $2 billion contract to operate the lab. Sandia Corp. and its parent company, Lockheed Martin, agreed to pay a $4.8 million fine.[23]

Technical areas

A researcher displays a model of the Big Hill cavern field in Texas, part of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve

SNL/NM consists of five technical areas (TA) and several additional test areas. Each TA has its own distinctive operations; however, the operations of some groups at Sandia may span more than one TA, with one part of a team working on a problem from one angle, and another subset of the same team located in a different building or area working with other specialized equipment. A description of each area is given below.

TA-I operations are dedicated primarily to three activities – the design, research, and development of weapon systems; limited production of weapon system components; and energy programs. TA-I facilities include the main library and offices, laboratories, and shops used by administrative and technical staff.

TA-II is a 45-acre (180,000 m2) facility that was established in 1948 for the assembly of chemical high explosive main charges for nuclear weapons and later for production scale assembly of nuclear weapons. Activities in TA-II include the decontamination, decommissioning, and remediation of facilities and landfills used in past research and development activities. Remediation of the Classified Waste Landfill which started in March 1998, neared completion in FY2000. A testing facility, the Explosive Component Facility, integrates many of the previous TA-II test activities as well as some testing activities previously performed in other remote test areas. The Access Delay Technology Test Facility is also located in TA-II.

TA-III is adjacent to and south of TA-V [both are approximately seven miles (11 km) south of TA-I]. TA-III facilities include extensive design-test facilities such as rocket sled tracks, centrifuges and a radiant heat facility. Other facilities in TA-III include a paper destructor, the Melting and Solidification Laboratory and the Radioactive and Mixed Waste Management Facility (RMWMF). RMWMF serves as central processing facility for packaging and storage of low-level and mixed waste. The remediation of the Chemical Waste Landfill, which started in September 1998, is an ongoing activity in TA-III.

TA-IV, located approximately 1/2 mile (1 km) south of TA-I, consists of several inertial-confinement fusion research and pulsed power research facilities, including the High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (Hermes-III), the Z Facility, the Short Pulsed High Intensity Nanosecond X-Radiator (SPHINX) Facility, and the Saturn Accelerator. TA-IV also hosts some computer science and cognition research.

TA-V contains two research reactor facilities, an intense gamma irradiation facility (using cobalt-60 and caesium-137 sources), and the Hot Cell Facility.

SNL/NM also has test areas outside of the five technical areas listed above. These test areas, collectively known as Coyote Test Field, are located southeast of TA-III and/or in the canyons on the west side of the Manzanita Mountains. Facilities in the Coyote Canyon Test Field include the Solar Tower Facility (34.9623 N, 106.5097 W), the Lurance Canyon Burn Site and the Aerial Cable Facility.

Open-source software

In the 1970s, the Sandia, Los Alamos, Air Force Weapons Laboratory Technical Exchange Committee initiated the development of the SLATEC library of mathematical and statistical routines, written in FORTRAN 77.

Today, Sandia National Laboratories is home to several open-source software projects:

  • FCLib (Feature Characterization Library) is a library for the identification and manipulation of coherent regions or structures from spatio-temporal data.[24] FCLib focuses on providing data structures that are "feature-aware" and support feature-based analysis.[24] It is written in C and developed under a "BSD-like" license.[25]
  • LAMMPS (Large-scale Atomic/Molecular Massively Parallel Simulator) is a molecular dynamics library that can be used to model parallel atomic/subatomic processes at large scale.[26] It is produced under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and distributed on the Sandia National Laboratories website as well as SourceForge.[26]
  • LibVMI is a library for simplifying the reading and writing of memory in running virtual machines, a technique known as virtual machine introspection.[27] It is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License.[27]
  • MapReduce-MPI Library is an implementation of MapReduce for distributed-memory parallel machines, utilizing the Message Passing Interface (MPI) for communication. It is developed under a modified Berkeley Software Distribution license.[28]
  • MultiThreaded Graph Library (MTGL) is a collection of graph-based algorithms designed to take advantage of parallel, shared-memory architectures such as the Cray XMT, Symmetric Multiprocessor (SMP) machines, and multi-core workstations.[29][30] It is developed under a BSD License.[29]
  • ParaView is a cross-platform application for performing data analysis and visualization.[31] It is a collaborative effort, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratories, and the United States Army Research Laboratory, and funded by the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program.[31] It is developed under a BSD license.[31]
  • Pyomo is a python-based optimisation Mathematical Programming Language with drivers with most commercial and open-source solver engines
  • Soccoro, a collaborative effort with Wake Forest and Vanderbilt Universities, is object-oriented software for performing electronic-structure calculations based on density-functional theory.[32] It utilizes libraries such as MPI, BLAS, and LAPACK and is developed under the GNU General Public License.[32]
  • Titan Informatics Toolkit is a collection of cross-platform libraries for ingesting, analyzing, and displaying scientific and informatics data.[33][34] It is a collaborative effort with Kitware, Inc., and uses various open-source components such as the Boost Graph Library.[33] It is developed under a New BSD license.[33]
  • Trilinos is an object-oriented library for building scalable scientific and engineering applications, with a focus on linear algebra techniques.[35] Most Trilinos packages are licensed under a Modified BSD License.[35]
  • Xyce is an open source, SPICE-compatible, high-performance analog circuit simulator, capable of solving extremely large circuit problems.[36]

In addition, Sandia National Laboratories collaborates with Kitware, Inc. in developing the Visualization Toolkit (VTK), a cross-platform graphics and visualization software suite.[37] This collaboration has focused on enhancing the information visualization capabilities of VTK and has in turn fed back into other projects such as ParaView and Titan.[31][33][37]

Self-guided bullet

On January 30, 2012, Sandia announced that it successfully test-fired a self-guided dart that can hit targets at 2,000 m (2,187 yd). The dart is 4 in (100 mm) long, has its center of gravity at the nose, and is made to be fired from a small-caliber smoothbore gun. It is kept straight in flight by four electromagnetically actuated fins encased in a plastic puller sabot that fall off when the dart leaves the bore. The dart cannot be fired from conventional rifled barrels because the gyroscopic stability provided by rifling grooves for regular bullets would prevent the self-guided bullet from reliably turning towards a target when in flight, so fins are responsible for stabilizing rather than spinning. A laser designator marks a target, which is tracked by the dart's optical sensor and 8-bit CPU. The guided projectile is kept cheap because it does not need an inertial measurement unit, since its small size allows it to make the fast corrections necessary without the aid of an IMU. The natural body frequency of the bullet is about 30 hertz, so corrections can be made 30 times per second in flight. Muzzle velocity with commercial gunpowder is 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s) (Mach 2.1), but military customized gunpowder can increase its speed and range. Computer modeling shows that a standard bullet would miss a target at 1,000 m (1,094 yd) by 9.8 yd (9 m), while an equivalent guided bullet would hit within 8 in (20 cm). Accuracy increases as distances get longer, since the bullet's motions settle more the longer it is in flight.[38][39][40]

See also



Further reading