Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico

Coordinator: Matthew Gomez

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Sandia is a multiprogram science and engineering laboratory operated for the Department of Energy (DOE) with major facilities at Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, and a test range near Tonopah, Nevada. Since its formation over 60 years ago, Sandia has established itself as a major research and development center with responsibilities for nuclear weapons, arms control, energy, the environment, economic competitiveness, pulsed power sciences, inertial confinement fusion, basic sciences and other areas of national importance. Sandia employs about 8300 staff with about 60% in scientific and technical positions.

Pulsed Power Sciences

The mission of Sandia’s Pulsed Power Sciences is to perform high energy density physics (HEDP) experiments for stockpile stewardship and develop the basic science of HEDP while delivering a high-yield inertial confinement fusion (ICF) capability for application to weapons effects, weapons physics, and energy production. The Pulsed Power Sciences center operates the Z Facility that is the world’s largest pulsed power generator.  This facility is capable of delivering 20-26 million amperes peak current, 2-3 million joules electrical energy, and an electrical pulse width of 100-400 nanoseconds.  Other large facilities operated by the pulse sciences center include the 100 TW Z-Beamlet laser and the PW Z-Petawatt laser.  We team with universities, industry, international partners, and other DOE laboratories.

Pulsed Power Sciences Research Emphasis:

  • Develop, diagnose, and characterize x-ray and isentropic compression sources that provides dynamic material characterization over a broad range of stress states and strain rates that include investigations into equation of state, phase boundaries, and constitutive properties
  • Diagnose and model HEDP environment in targets driven by intense x rays
  • Validate driver and target requirements for z-pinch-driven high-yield ICF concepts
  • Develop diagnostics for and evaluate performance of National Ignition Facility targets

Computational Sciences

Research in computational science at Sandia ranges from exploring issues in theoretical and applied computer science to the development of new numerical algorithms for novel architecture computers. Sandia is currently developing applications software to perform scientific and engineering calculations on massively parallel computers. The primary goal of this effort is to develop a unique capability for performing large-scale simulations and to investigate important scientific and engineering questions that would otherwise be impossible using conventional supercomputers. The Computational Plant project at Sandia National Laboratories is developing a large-scale, massively parallel computing resource from a cluster of commodity computing and networking components. We are combining the knowledge and research of previous and ongoing commodity cluster projects with our expertise in designing, developing, using, and maintaining large-scale MPP machines. Our goal is to provide a commodity-based, large-scale computing resource that meets the level of compute performance needed by Sandia’s critical applications.

Computational Molecular Science

Our work in this area is focused on developing and applying state-of-the-art computational molecular methods ranging from electronic structure to molecular theory for massively parallel supercomputers. Examples of current research topics include radiation effects in electronic materials, mesoscale modeling of fracture and failure in alloys, lubrication in microelectromechanical (MEMs) systems, transport in polymers and biomembranes, protein folding, and cell modeling.

Structural Mechanics/Finite Element Analysis

Sandia has developed a broad capability for performing finite element analysis of complex engineering systems to verify that they meet structural design requirements. Massively parallel computers are being used to perform large-scale finite element analyses to reduce production costs and to increase efficiency of the design process. Parallel algorithm developments, as well as graphical analysis of the results, are topics of on-going research that are important to the development of a massively parallel production environment at Sandia.

3-D Seismic Imaging of Complex Geologies

A key to reducing the risks and costs associated with domestic oil and gas exploration is the ability to image complex geologies, such as thrusts in mountainous areas and sub-salt structures in the Gulf of Mexico. Commonly used poststack depth migration and prestack time migration techniques are not able to accurately resolve these geologies. Prestack depth migration has the potential to image these geologies, but further algorithmic developments and an improved computational infrastructure are needed. Together with our industrial partners, we have launched a new effort to develop massively parallel finite-difference techniques to enable large-scale prestack depth migration.

Shock Physics Research

Sandia is a nationally recognized expert in modeling shock waves, the associated nonlinear material response, and the associated large deformations. We develop massively parallel, three-dimensional shock physics computer codes and apply them to government, industry, and scientific problems. The codes must model the nonlinear behavior of metals, geological materials, and explosives under high pressure and large strains. We have used the codes to model a broad variety of problems including the impact of meteors on satellites, fragmentation of oil shale for in situ retorting, the lethality of a United States missile colliding with a foreign missile, the effectiveness of modern ‘bulletproof’ vests, and even the fireball arising from the impact of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet with Jupiter. We are extending our models to use adaptive finite-element techniques, arbitrary-connectivity meshes, and explicit and implicit solution techniques.