The Physical and Life Sciences (PLS) Directorate’s research program in materials science supports the Laboratory's scientific, technological, and programmatic missions. Our work in this area provides the scientific basis for fundamental and predictive understanding of materials structure, properties, and performance, with an emphasis on materials of interest to Laboratory programs. To fulfill this vision, we have developed state-of-the-art competencies in materials science, condensed matter physics, high-pressure and shock physics, materials characterization, experimentation, theory, and simulations. In partnership with other Laboratory and external organizations, we are delivering the next-generation capabilities, anticipating future mission needs, and performing and publishing world-class scientific research.

Laboratory programs in the nuclear weapons stockpile, homeland and global security, high-energy-density science, nuclear reactor science, and energy and environmental science and technology define the strategic focus areas of our materials science research. We study materials under a variety of equilibrium and non-equilibrium conditions, over a great breadth of timescales ranging from thousands of years to picoseconds, from cryogenic to near-plasma-condition temperatures, from vacuum to center-of-the-earth-like pressures.

The predictive understanding of properties, synthesis, and performance of materials over a broad range of conditions is truly a new frontier in materials science. The directorate houses a multidisciplinary set of competencies and capabilities that integrate experiments, theory and simulation. Our scientists utilize world-class experimental and computational facilities at Livermore and elsewhere in the DOE complex, including the National Ignition Facility and the BlueGene/L supercomputer (Livermore), the Advanced Light Source (Berkeley), and the Advanced Photon Source (Argonne). Directorate scientists play leadership roles in the scientific community in several key and emerging areas of materials science including actinide science, electron microscopy, high-pressure and shock physics, laser-materials interactions, materials theory, simulation and modeling, materials synthesis and processing, metallurgy, nanoscience and technology, nuclear fuels, optical materials science, and surface science.

The Condensed Matter and Materials Division oversees and conducts the bulk of the PLS Directorate’s research program in condensed matter and materials science.

Science & Technology Highlights

Advanced Materials

Materials Under Extreme Conditions


Nanoscience and Technology

Stockpile Materials

Theory, Modeling, and Computation

Ultrafast Science

Using ultrabright, ultrafast x-ray sources at high-energy laser and accelerator facilities, PLS scientists are directly probing the lattice of the shocked solid to better understand how extreme dynamic stress affects a material's phase, strength, and damage evolution. In this photo, Hector Lorenzana checks target and detector alignment in the vacuum chamber of the LLNL Janus Laser.