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
- Smoothing Out Defects for Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography
- Molecular Building Blocks Made of Diamonds
- Fusion Targets on the Double
- Bringing Fusion Research into Focus
- Mimicking Nature's Crystalline Structures
- Engineering Stronger Materials to Withstand Extreme Conditions
Materials Under Extreme Conditions
- Studies Lead to New Understanding of Materials at Extreme Conditions
- New Routes to High Temperatures and Pressures
- Spin Transition Zone in Earth’s Lower Mantle
- Unusual Properties of Dense Liquid Sodium
- Shedding Light on Electrons in Lanthanide Metals
Nanoscience and Technology
- Atom by Atom, Layer by Layer
- Ultrahard Nanocrystalline Metals
- Optical Ignition of Nanotubes—Energetic Materials Mixtures
- Synthesis and Characterization of Nanoporous Metal Foam
- Manipulating Individual Nanotubes under Extreme Conditions
- Nanofoil Solders with Less Heat
- Simulating Materials for Nanostructural Designs
- Predicting the Bizarre Properties of Plutonium
- U.S. Weapons Plutonium Aging Gracefully
- A First Look at Plutonium's Phonons
Theory, Modeling, and Computation
- Material Scientists Discover the Power of ParaDis
- Finding a New Source of Laser-Like Radiation
- Thunder's Power Delivers Breakthrough Science
- Unraveling the Mysteries of Dislocation Formation
- A Quantum Contribution to Technology
- A Quantum Leap in Materials Modeling
- Taking Ultrafast Snapshots of Material Changes
- A New Realm of Materials Science
- Time-Resolved Observations of Electronic Structure
- Ultrafast Dynamics of Metal Deformation
- The Dynamic Transmission Electron Microscope
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.