The Physical and Life Sciences Directorate teams with other LLNL programs to provide additional capabilities inside of several research centers and institutes. Typically multidisciplinary in nature, these organizations are staffed by personnel from our five divisions and our partner organizations, and provide environments and facilities in which researchers with differing, yet complementary, expertise can work together on significant problems in basic and applied science and technology.

View of NEC 1 tandem accelerator at CAMS.
Fish-eye view of the NEC 1-MV tandem accelerator at CAMS.

Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

Since its inception in 1987, LLNL’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) has applied a wide range of isotopic and ion-beam analytical tools used in basic research and technology development to address a spectrum of scientific needs important to the Laboratory, the university community, and the nation. CAMS hosts a 10-MV FN tandem Van de Graaff accelerator, and a NEC 1-MV tandem accelerator to perform more than 25,000 AMS measurement operations per year, as well as a nuclear microprobe. CAMS activities contribute to LLNL programs in national security, climate change, biodefense. Using diverse analytical techniques, CAMS utilizes:

Radiocarbon for geochronology (archaeology, paleoclimatology, paleoseismology, and other disciplines), carbon-cycle dynamics, oceanic and atmospheric chemistry, isotope tracing, climate change as well as forensic analysis of biological and other agents.

Heavy element AMS to enable intelligence gathering, biomonitoring and forensic capabilities with focus on actinides. Detection of signatures of nuclear fuel reprocessing for nonproliferation purposes.

Geoscience AMS for direct applications to DOE needs such as landscape dating for Yucca Mountain as well as serving the NSF earth science community for neotectonics, geomorphology and groundwater hydrogeology.

Biomedical AMS to focus on biomedical tracer studies including bioavailability and metabolism of chemicals, toxic compounds, and nutrients. CAMS is a world leader in biomedical application of AMS and LLNL has been the NIH National Resource for Biomedical AMS for the past decade.

Ion beam analysis (IBA) and materials modification to simulate the aging of materials due to their radiolytic environment via ion implantation.

Nuclear Microscopy for applications in materials characterization, environmental and biomedical research via use of IBA techniques.


Center for National Security Applications of Magnetic Resonance

The Center for National Security Applications of Magnetic Resonance was created in 2003 to meet national defense challenges and explore the application of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to biological characterization. The center is a multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art NMR facility, housing instruments with unique capabilities and a world-class research staff with diverse interests. The center is a powerful resource for researchers exploring the chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of biological, organic, and inorganic materials. Examples of current projects include studies of solgel architectures for chemical synthesis and the structure of high-molecular-weight organic and inorganic complexes.

Energetic Materials Center

Sample preparation at HEAF
At the High Explosives Applications Facility, scientists complete sample preparation for high-explosives detonation experiments to improve our understanding of how steel and other materials fail.

The Energetic Materials Center (EMC) is operated jointly by the PLS and Weapons and Complex Integration directorates at Lawrence Livermore to conduct research and development on the performance of high explosives. Initially established as a core element of the nuclear weapons program, EMC has grown to also support research and development for advanced conventional weapons, rocket and gun propellants, homeland security, demilitarization, and industrial applications of energetic materials. EMC researchers combine breakthrough computer simulation codes, state-of-the-art experimental diagnostics, and a culture in which theory- and experiment-based chemists and physicists work together to provide a detailed understanding of the chemistry and physics of energetic materials, their applications to national defense, and the performance of high explosives and how their performance may change over time.

The EMC conducts much of its experimental work at LLNL's High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF) and the the Laboratory's remote Site 300. HEAF and Site 300 house unique facilities for the synthesis, characterization, and testing of high explosives and other energetic materials. HEAF and Site 300 are also equipped with extensive, high-fidelity, high-speed diagnostic capabilities, including x-ray radiography, high-speed photography, laser velocimetry, and embedded particle velocity/pressure measurements.

PLS Postdoc Program participants Using diverse analytical techniques, the PLS centers and institutes provide leading-edge capabilities to meet our mission needs. Our bioaerosol mass spectrometer, pictured here, allows for rapid discrimination of micrometer-scale single cells and spores in complex backgrounds and is becoming the capability of choice for biological homeland defense, presymptomatic disease detection, and cell life-cycle studies.

Forensic Science Center

Created in 1991, the Forensic Science Center (FSC) has established nationally recognized capabilities to support the Laboratory's national-security programs in chemical, nuclear, and biological counterterrorism. The FSC combines state-of-the-art science and technology with expertise in chemical, nuclear, biological, and high-explosives forensic science to support these national security missions. The FSC also collaborates with federal agencies by applying forensic technology to help defeat terrorists or interdict dangerous materials. While serving the immediate, short-term needs in these areas, the center also conducts basic research in the areas of analytical science and instrument development, nuclear forensic analysis, and the synthesis of new molecular and tailored nanostructured materials.


Glenn T. Seaborg Institute

Established in 1991, the LLNL branch of the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute conducts collaborative research between LLNL and the academic community in radiochemistry and nuclear forensics. The Seaborg Institute serves as a national center for the education and training of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and faculty in transactinium science.

Institute for Laser Science Applications

The Institute for Laser Science Applications (ILSA) facilitates academic collaborations involving one or more of the JLF laser systems. ILSA's mission is to strengthen the research interactions in the field of high-power lasers and their applications between LLNL and the academic community. As part of this mission, ILSA oversees access for students and faculty to existing LLNL experimental facilities in order to facilitate training and research for university students and faculty in areas important to the Department of Energy (DOE) in high energy density (HED) science with lasers.

Sample preparation at HEAF
Located in Walnut Creek, California, the Production Genomics Facility is a key facility of the Joint Genome Institute.

Joint Genome Institute

The overarching mission of the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) is to provide integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis to enable genomic-scale and systems-based scientific approaches to DOE-relevant challenges in energy and the environment. JGI is a "virtual institute" that integrates the genomic capabilities of six partner institutions: Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and and Pacific Northwest national laboratories, and Stanford University. The expertise and capabilities of these partner institutions are brought to bear on problems at the frontiers of genome sequencing and related biological research.


Jupiter Laser Facility

The Jupiter Laser Facility (JLF) provides a unique platform for the use of ultra intense and petawatt-class (PW) lasers to explore laser-matter interactions under extreme conditions. Titan is the latest laser facility to be added to the JLF that includes the Janus, Callisto, Europa and COMET lasers and associated target chamber. Many experiments are carried out by collaborative teams from LLNL and other research institutions including universities as part of the JLF User Program.

Livermore Microarray Center

The Livermore Microarray Center (LMAC) is a service center that provides microarray capabilities for numerous applications, including gene expression, comparative genomics, and gene resequencing analyses, as well as a potentially wide range of diagnostic and forensic analyses. LMAC has a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment, including a NimbleGen Maskless Array Synthesizer (MAS) to make custom-designed, high-density chips (400,000 features per chip) with in-house NimbleGen Chip processing capability; a high-speed, high-performance printer that can print DNA, protein, and peptide microarrays; processing capabilities for in-house and commercial preprinted slides and a laser scanner that provides one- to four-color detection simultaneously; and a complete Affymetrix GeneChip microarray system for processing, scanning, and analyzing commercially available GeneChips. Using LMAC's equipment, services, and expertise in statistical analysis, scientists are able to analyze and compare the concurrent activity of thousands of genes at a time, substantially advancing their research in such areas as how cells respond to radiation exposure, the causes of cancer and other diseases, the genetic makeup of the bacteria that cause plague and anthrax, and the metabolism of natural microbial communities.

Nanoscale Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory

The Nanoscale Synthesis and Characterization Laboratory (NSCL) was formed in 2004 to create and exploit interdisciplinary R&D opportunities in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The NSCL's long-term research goal is to thoroughly understand materials synthesis, properties, fabrication and assembly, and performance on an atomic or nanoscopic scale so that we can manipulate materials and fabricate or assemble desirable structures at less than 100-nm-length scales in order to take advantage of the unique and technologically useful material properties that arise from such structures. Through advanced synthesis, fabrication, and atomic-scale characterization, NSCL develops new materials and nanostructures that have far-reaching potentials beyond their immediate national-security applications. Thus far, NSCL has focused its research in four science and technology areas: nanoporous materials, advanced nanocrystalline materials, three-dimensional nanofabrication technologies, and nondestructive characterization. Currently, the principal goal of this work is to develop millimeter-sized target capsules that will maintain hydrodynamic stability of target materials under the extreme conditions produced during high-power laser experiments.

National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

LLNL's National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (BioAMS) was established to make AMS available to biomedical researchers who need to accurately measure very low levels of 14C. Located in the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) and PLS, this national user facility specializes in the biomedical uses of 14C and 3H, and also uses AMS to measure other isotopes, such as 41Ca, 10Be, 26Al, and 99Tc.