Ensuring Dynamic Imaging Capabilities Meet Nuclear Security Enterprise Needs

The Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) needs dynamic imaging data to underwrite the nuclear deterrent. These critical data needs range from focused experiments on materials and components to integrated systems experiments. The experimental requirements include the ability to handle high-hazard materials, classified devices, and classified data. The current national facility portfolio to deliver this data includes the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT), the Contained Firing Facility, and LANL and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory firing sites. Additionally, complementary nuclear and material science data is delivered by LANSCE and other DOE facilities (e.g., light sources). LANL must ensure its continued access to critical dynamic imaging data by sustaining and modernizing facilities and by anticipating the data needs of the future.

 This SIC will ensure that the Laboratory strengthens capabilities at LANSCE, DARHT, and the experimental firing sites to ensure delivery of critical data required to underwrite stockpile assessment and modernization programs. Targeted advocacy for advances in capability at national facilities, such as hazardous/classified operations at light sources, is also required to fill this gap.

  • LANSCE: LANSCE was first commissioned more than 50 years ago. It is time to develop technology that significantly advances LANSCE’s current and future national security capabilities. A needed investment is R&D for replacement of the existing LANSCE high-power 805-MHz RF stations. Such a system would significantly improve reliability and maintenance over existing pulsed, high-power radio frequency technologies. Concurrently, we will develop a software model to initiate the development of a control system for stable operation of the actual device. 
  • DARHT: Critical systems at DARHT are aging and require recapitalization to ensure reliability and performance. Technology advances will be developed and demonstrated for future elements identified in the DARHT Capability Expansion Strategy. Efforts will improve reliability, increase data quality, enable more complex environments, and establish a path for future DARHT modernization. 
  • Firing Sites: Current dynamic imaging technology at numerous firing sites is dated and increasingly unreliable. Technology advances will be fully developed and demonstrated to replace current x-ray sources and detectors. A critical capability gap in dynamic radiographic imaging for wide-view experiments will be closed, increasing the ability to safely diagnose weapon design and performance and to understand the intricacies of hydrodynamic defeat. 

By investing in these mission-essential capabilities, LANL will ensure access to the dynamic imaging data needed by the NSE into the future.

This SIC supports Critical Outcomes in experimental advances, threat response, and computational and AI breakthroughs, as well as the advanced manufacturing SIC.