Applied Physics Research Areas

Applied Physics (AP) is active in biodefense, counter-nuclear terrorism, explosives detection, nuclear stockpile surveillance, medical technology and metrology and diagnostics for NIF.

AP houses the Medical Technology Program (MTP), which has been a source of innovation for Laboratory national security programs, a link to advanced technology capabilities in academia and industry, and a highly visible example of defense expertise applied to broader national problems.

Cutting edge science includes participation in dark energy and dark matter searches, extra-solar planet searches, neutrino oscillation experiments, ultra-fast imaging at 4th generation light sources, and a Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

AP leads two large work-for-others science construction projects: the Extreme Adaptive Optics planet finder for the Gemini Observatory, and the X-ray Transport and Optics for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

Advanced Detectors

The Advanced Detector Group develops devices which have applications for national security, including nuclear material analysis and detection of nuclear materials; applications for basic science including astrophysics, atomic physics, structural biology, and plasma diagnostics; and applications for industry including semiconductor manufacturing and materials analysis.


Optical Sciences

Medical Technology

X-Ray Science & Technology

The X-ray Optics group performs pioneering research into optics for photons ranging from the ultraviolet through the hard X-ray (~100 kilo electron Volts).

Linac Coherent Light Source Project

The Linear Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC
AP is part of a SLAC/ANL/LLNL collaboration developing the Linear Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC
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Near-infrared false-color image taken with the W.M. Keck II telescope and adaptive optics. The three planets are labelled b, c, and d. The colored speckles in the center are the remains of the bright light from their parent star after image processing.

Using high-contrast, near-infrared adaptive optics observations with the Keck and Gemini telescopes, a team of researchers from LLNL, the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Canada, Lowell Observatory, University of California Los Angeles, and several other institutions were able to see three orbiting planetary companions to HR8799.

Astronomers have known for a decade through indirect techniques that the sun was not the only star with orbiting planets. "But we finally have an actual image of an entire system," PLS researcher Bruce Macintosh said. "This is a milestone in the search and characterization of planetary systems around stars."

During the past 10 years, various planet detection techniques have been used to find more than 200 exoplanets. But these methods all have limitations. Most infer the existence of a planet through its influence on the star that it orbits, but don't actually tell scientists anything about the planet other than its mass and orbit. Second, the techniques are all limited to small to moderate planet-star separation, usually less than about 5 astronomical units (one AU is the average distance from the sun to Earth).

In the new findings, the planets are 24, 37 and 67 times the Earth-sun separation from the host star. The furthest planet in the new system orbits just inside a disk of dusty debris, similar to that produced by the comets of the Kuiper belt of our solar system (just beyond the orbit of Neptune at 30 times Earth-sun distance).

The full results were published by AAAS Science on November 28, 2008 as the cover article.