The Physical and Life Sciences Directorate (PLS) Directorate supports the Laboratory's scientific, technological, and programmatic missions in physics. The PLS Physics Division maintains expertise in a wide variety of scientific disciplines and advanced technologies to fulfill this need.

The PLS Physics Division maintains expertise in a wide variety of scientific disciplines and advanced technologies to fulfill this need that overlap with the following core competencies:

  • Plasma and atomic physics
  • High Energy Density sciences
  • Nuclear and particle physics
  • Accelerator science
  • Particle beam physics
  • Optical and imaging science
  • Radiation detection
  • Astrophysics

These core competencies are important for supporting the major LLNL programs in WCI, NIF, and GS as well as Office of Science programs and WFO programs and projects where PLS staff members are principal investigators.

The Physics Division is also actively engaged in broad set of R&D partnerships with academic institutions, other national laboratories and high-tech industrial organizations. These partnerships range from individual collaborations with faculty, postdoctoral scientists and students, to formal partnerships such as NSF science and technology centers, and cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with industrial partners.

The future direction of the PLS physics research incorporates the national needs within the Laboratory’s science, technology and the national security agenda. The Physics Division oversees a vast majority of the physics work within PLS especially in the following four primary areas:

Scientific Frontiers

Accelerator Science


High Energy Density Sciences

Nuclear and Particle Physics

Optical and Imaging Science

Plasma and Atomic Physics

Radiation Detection

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These researchers are studying fast ignition for inertial confinement fusion energy at the Jupiter Laser Facility.

LLNL's 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.

LLNL's Institute for Laser Science and 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.