CSD provides the majority of the staff to multiple Centers of Excellence and Institutes at LLNL, including:

Forensic Science Center (FSC).
The FSC conducts state-of-the-art research to develop novel tools to collect evidence and perform and interpret the measurements that are needed to exploit the validated chemical signatures in complex forensic samples. LLNL's FSC is one of the two U.S. laboratories to be internationally certified for identifying chemical-warfare agents. Created in 1991, the Center is home to nationally recognized experts who support chemical, nuclear and biological counter-terrorism.

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Energetic Materials Center (EMC).

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, Global Security 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.

Energetic Materials Center


Nuclear Counting Facility (NCF).
The NCF has been providing high-sensitivity radiation measurements since the inception of radiochemical diagnostics in support of the U.S. Nuclear Test Program. NCF supports applications in basic nuclear science, stockpile stewardship, NIF diagnostics, nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation, nuclear forensics and counterterrorism, consequence management and emergency response (the most recent high-visibility response was the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis), and environmental monitoring. The cutting edge GAMANAL software used to interpret gamma spectra developed at LLNL is now in use globally. NCF is supported by several low-level gamma counters and LSCs in the Environmental Radioanalytical Monitoring Laboratory (EMRL), a facility that primarily supports environmental and stack monitoring for LLNL but also supports the national security mission

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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.

Glenn T. Seaborg Institute


State of the Art Instrumentation.
CSD facilities are home to state of the art Mass Spectrometry, Optical and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometry capabilities. Unique capabilities including nanoscale ion, stable isotope ratio and noble gas mass spectrometry, enable fundamental research ranging from oxygen isotopic measurements on meteorites, to the study of the mobility of actinides in the environment. Our capability to dissolve highly radioactive samples of any matrix for analysis is unique in the complex, as is our ability to perform ultra high sensitivity NMR spectroscopy on chemical and explosive agents.


CSD facilities house multiple high field and multiple low field NMR spectrometers with capabilities for analysis of solids, liquids and gases, including explosives, radiological, and highly toxic industrial chemical and chemical and biological threat agents.

DAC and Ultrafast Shockwave Science.
In our diamond anvil-based laboratories, we can measure materials properties at the highest static pressures ever studied (above 1 Mbar). These data provide essential equation-of-state information for weapons performance and the design of experiments at NIF as well as allowing us to probe the chemistries that control the formation of unique materials. CSD is developing new experiments that study shock compression with 10 picosecond time resolution. These experiments push the limits of current theories of the strength of metals, phase transitions, and chemical kinetics.

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Mass Spectrometry

Analysis of Materials by NanoSIMS.
To probe the spatial distribution of isotopes in materials at the nanoscale, CSD scientists have been exploiting the resolution afforded by Livermore's nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS)—one of about 30 such spectrometers in the world. Recently, NanoSIMS, among many other LLNL resources, was used to determine the age of silicate material from comet Wild 2 returned by the Stardust mission and to investigate heterogeneity in the early solar system . In addition, with collaborators at the University of Illinois and the National Institutes of Health, CSD staff recently used NanoSIMS to investigate the organization of lipids and proteins in cell membranes.

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Solar system heterogeneity
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Elkhorn Slough microbial mat and NanoSIMS imaging of identified N-fixers: Anabaena (upper right panels), single cell Delta and Gamma proteobacteria (lower right panels), and Lyngbya


Actinide Mass Spectrometry.
CSD facilities house two multi-collector magnetic sector ICPMSs with a third on the way; a multi-collector thermal ionization mass spectrometer; two single-collector quadrupole ICPMSs, two isotope ratio mass spectrometers (with a fluorination line for processing radioactive uranium oxides – the only such capability in the DOE), and associated clean laboratories for performing low-level chemical separations. The capability is internationally recognized and is involved in the development of new special nuclear material standards for chronometry and trace actinides in uranium.


Noble Gas Mass Spectrometry.
CSD houses a number of noble gas mass spectrometry instruments, including one set up to automate the analysis of noble gases and tritiogenic helium in water samples (one of only two in the nation) and a new multi-collector instrument with a versatile sample introduction system that will support NIF, nuclear forensics and planetary science. The facility also includes a field-portable membrane-inlet mass spectrometry system for unique groundwater tracer experiment.