Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

LANSCE Weapons Physics

Fortune 500 companies and weapons designers alike rely on our internationally recognized nuclear physics and materials science expertise as well as our one-of-a-kind experimental tools.

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  • Deputy Group Leader
  • Michael Mocko (acting)
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  • Deputy Group Leader
  • Shea Mosby
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  • Group Office
  • (505) 667-6797
Time Projection Chamber at LANSCE

Researcher making measurements of fission cross sections on the Time Projection Chamber at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center.

Making important scientific contributions to national security, academia, and industry

LANSCE Weapons Physics (P-27) operates two user facilities supported by the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) accelerator, making important scientific contributions to national security, academia, and industry by exploiting the unique characteristics of intense beams of unmoderated pulsed neutrons at the Weapons Neutron Research Facility, moderated pulsed neutrons at the Lujan Center, and protons at Target 2.

Nuclear and materials science—from fundamental understanding of nuclear structure and reactions to the characterization of materials under extreme environments—is intimately connected with Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission to solve national security challenges through scientific and operational excellence.

The ~1-meV-~600-MeV energy spectrum provided by two complementary neutron production targets enables

  • energy dispersive neutron imaging
  • fission and nuclear reaction properties measurements
  • radiation effects in semiconductor devices studies
  • materials structure characterization, ranging from interatomic distances to micrometers length
  • scales under extreme pressure, temperature, and magnetic fields

Main focus areas

  • Experimental nuclear physics, including staging multichannel hybrid detector systems; customized data acquisition, based on waveform digitizers; and full data analysis, including detector response simulation
  • Nuclear data deliverables for NNSA
  • Neutron
  • Induced single event testing in semiconductors
  • Neutron radiography
  • Support of neutron scattering capabilities for materials science
  • Proton irradiation
  • Spallation neutron physics simulations

Our science team brings a wide range of expertise in nuclear and materials science, as well as neutron spallation physics, excelling in designing and developing new instruments and developing novel techniques using neutrons and protons.

P-27 has expertise in developing integrated data acquisition systems with low dead time-high throughput and hybrid detector array assemblies coupled with complex detector response simulations to provide high-impact data in the fields of fission cross section, fission yields, neutron capture and neutron radiography for NNSA, nuclear energy programs, and academia.

We host an experimental program focusing on measuring neutron-induced single event upset for avionics and the microelectronic industry.

Recent accomplishments include

  • high-precision U-238/U-235 and Pu-239 fission cross section measurements on the fission Time Projection Chamber and development of the Chi-Nu detector array, for measuring fission neutron output from major actinides
  • experimental development aimed at understanding actinide and rad-chemistry reaction networks leading to data acquisition and analysis packages characterizing neutron capture phenomena in rare and unstable targets like U-235 and Pu-239 with the Detector for Advanced Neutron Capture Experiments (DANCE)
  • complex neutron imaging studies of real objects of interest to NNSA and Nuclear Energy programs with unprecedented success enabled by large neutron energy ranges
  • unclassified and classified experiments on diverse materials of interest to NNSA

Our operations team brings unique expertise for operating and developing the Weapons Neutron Research and Lujan Center user facilities. Team members have successfully implemented a high-quality operations plan at Lujan Center, with recognized top-tier conduct of operations.

Other team members are experts in operating and maintaining the neutron-producing spallation target at WNR and Lujan Center, as well as supporting neutron flight path experiments and ancillary instruments.

User Facilities

We operate two designated National User Facilities:

The Weapons Neutron Research Facility serves a loyal nuclear physics community that includes members of academia and industry in addition to government labs from the United States and Europe.

The Lujan Center houses instruments for conducting nuclear physics and astrophysics experiments, as well as neutron scattering measurements and neutron imaging, supporting research in materials science, nuclear science, chemistry, and biology.