Los Alamos National Laboratory

Coordinator: Samantha Lawrence

Review abstracts for current and past practicum experiences at Los Alamos >>

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Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) combines cutting-edge experimental and computational tools to meet U.S. national security needs. LANL’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent. To meet this duty without nuclear testing, LANL scientists and engineers acquire data and develop models to understand weapons' performance and behavior. Their research also contributes to broader national security needs in nuclear non-proliferation and counter-terrorism, energy and climate, and biodefense.

LANL offers fellowship research opportunities these areas:

Pulsed power science and engineering

Los Alamos applies pulsed power technology across a range of topics, including complex hydrodynamics, material properties, plasma physics, high energy density physics and accelerator technology. Programs in low-impedance, very high current pulsed power span topics in traditional capacitive energy storage, switching, power conditioning and pulse shaping using capacitor banks, pulse lines and current-multiplying transformer technologies. LANL is assembling engineers and physicists to work in pulsed power engineering for both traditional approaches and unconventional systems. Physicists and engineers can explore some of the latest detector technology for hydrodynamics, shock-wave physics and material science in condensed matter environments that are unreachable using traditional drivers.

Radiation magneto-hydrodynamics/nuclear astrophysics/spectroscopy

LANL scientists study challenging problems in astrophysics and inertial confinement fusion (ICF) where the formation of self-generated magnetic fields may play a critical role in imploding systems. Los Alamos has several projects designed to improve our understanding of magnetic fields generated from turbulent plasma flows, with experiments on the National Ignition Facility, the Omega laser facility and other laser devices. The work helps develop improved models for simulation codes. Similar phenomena may be important in core-collapse supernovae. While most astrophysics research in this area focuses on the explosion phase, understanding collapse may be essential in understanding the entire process. High energy density facilities can help provide direct experimental evidence to validate these astrophysical simulations.

Atomic physics and visible/UV/X-ray spectroscopy

Atomic physics and spectroscopy also play a critical role in understanding and diagnosing physical systems ranging from materials on the surface of Mars, observational and theoretical astrophysics, and high energy density science. LANL has a rich history of research developing basic spectroscopy tools and atomic physics models for a range of applications, including in solar/stellar physics. Lab researchers also use LANL’s spectroscopy capabilities to address other interesting problems in high energy density physics. Absorption spectroscopy measures supersonic radiation flow and transmission spectroscopy provides a means to obtain the conditions inside capsule implosions for ICF. These research areas support investigations over a range of applications probing an array of material conditions.

Dynamic materials/shock physics

Challenging stockpile stewardship problems revolve around the dynamic performance of materials under extreme conditions. LANL experiments inform predictive models of material behavior under weapons-relevant conditions. Physics areas of emphasis include equations-of-state, reactive burn, strength models, damage models and ejecta production. Because each of these behaviors depend on material phase and can be time-dependent, LANL research focuses on phase-aware models, detailed mechanistic insights and kinetics. Each of these models is applied to materials of stockpile interest. Experimental facilities used in these studies range from benchtop size through intermediate-scale gun and pulsed power facilities to large integrated experiments.

Accelerator design

LANL offers research opportunities in all aspects of pulsed high-current electron beam technology for accelerators used in X-radiography and low-current electron beam technology for radio-frequency accelerators and advanced free electron lasers. Penetrating imaging of dynamic, dense objects requires intense pulses of high-energy X-rays created by focusing kiloampere electron beam pulses to very small spot sizes. Radiation sources with flexible temporal and spectral characteristics are needed to probe multi-scale materials at scales ranging from atomic to macro-scale. LANL radiography programs offer opportunities for research, engineering, modeling and diagnostics at several present and upcoming accelerator facilities.