Experimental Advances

Modernize our diagnostic and manufacturing science capability at LANL to continue to meet mission need for certification and qualification of materials and advanced design concepts for our weapons and other DOE program space.

LANL's national security mission relies on strategic experiments to provide critical observations on the behavior and properties of materials, components, and systems. Experiments in nuclear science - fundamental cross sections and integral critical assemblies - also inform and validate our simulation codes. This data complements and informs our other research based on theory and simulation, and it is essential for some mission needs related to certification and qualification of materials and advanced concepts.

This Critical Outcome is focused on ensuring the vibrancy of our key experimental facilities and capabilities through targeted investments that anticipate needs of the future. It responds to specific capability needs identified from national planning documents—e.g., the Requirements Planning Document and the Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan. This Critical Outcome supports three of the Strategic Objectives in accomplishing the Laboratory mission: Nuclear Deterrence, Trustworthy Operations, and Technical Leadership. This Critical Outcome also complements the Critical Outcome on System Technology Modernization, and it leverages Signature Institutional Commitments in AI, dynamic imaging, and advanced manufacturing.

In FY23, we achieved key milestones on new high-explosive formulations, aging effects on compressibility, and the impact of carbide size on materials of interest. We also developed, staffed, and chartered our Accelerator Strategy office.

For FY24, we will build on these successes through six Supporting Initiatives.

Supporting Initiatives

  1. Enable Los Alamos Neutron Science Center's (LANSCE’s) Accelerator Modernization Project inclusive of enhancements beyond the front end to sustain required capabilities.
  2. By 2030, develop the capability to underwrite the certification of a new weapon system with the radiographic and reactivity capabilities of the Enhanced Capabilities for Subcritical Experiments (ECSE) project and validated 3D calculations. Develop an alternative first experiment on ECSE.
  3. Execute a strategy to expand the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility capability needed to provide a growing need for this essential data.
  4. Establish an Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence focused on prototype and small-lot manufacturing advancements to underpin multiple Critical Outcomes and mission areas that rely on engagement and the future of advanced manufacturing science expertise at LANL.
  5. Execute the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) PF-4 Equipment Installation Phase 2 (PEI-2) project in accordance with the IMS. (Note, CMRR PEI-2 is also captured in a supporting initiative for the Pit Manufacturing Critical Objective.)
  6. Complete execution of the modernization plans for the Sigma and Target Fabrication Facilities.

primary Strategic Objective

Technical Leadership - Deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs to advance relevant research frontiers and anticipate emerging national security risks.

secondary Strategic Objectives

Threat Reduction - Anticipate persistent and emerging threats to global security; develop and deploy revolutionary tools to detect, deter, and respond proactively.

Nuclear Deterrence - Lead the nation in evaluating, developing, and ensuring effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent, including the design, production, and certification of current and future nuclear weapons.