Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

Neutron Science and Technology

From a mountaintop in Mexico where we investigate gamma rays, to underground laboratories where we study the behavior of plutonium under extreme conditions, our research spans the spectrum from fundamental to applied.


  • Group Leader
  • Maria Rightley (acting)
  • Email

Spanning the spectrum from fundamental to applied

Neutron Science and Technology (P-23) is a diverse group of experimental physicists, engineers, technicians, and students engaged in a range of fundamental and applied research in nuclear physics beyond the Standard Model, weapons physics, remote sensing, and fluid dynamics.

The common feature is the application of state-of-the-art techniques in particle and light detection and the recording of transient events. We support a diverse program that includes scientists of many nationalities, participation in experiments worldwide, sponsorship of workshops and conferences, and classified experiments and analysis.


The Advanced Imaging team develops neutron imaging systems for NIF (Neutron Ignition Facility at LLNL) and other facilities (for example Omega at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester), performs 3D neutron and gamma imaging analysis, and develops, supports, and executes other related diagnostics.

The Applied Materials and Weapon Physics team has two major focus areas – subcritical experiments and the physics of dynamic materials. The work on subcritical experiments fields novel and unique diagnostics to measure and understand the shocked behavior of plutonium at the Nevada National Security Site in support of science-based stockpile stewardship. The dynamic materials work also explores the physics of materials under extreme conditions. Sophisticated measurements that this team specializes in include neutron cross sections, time-resolved pyrometry, x-ray radiography, high-speed visible imaging, holography, and momentum diagnostics.

The Defense Science and Astrophysics team efforts include leadership of the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC), a next-generation, high energy gamma-ray observatory at a high-altitude site in Mexico; it’s used to study particle acceleration in some of the most extreme environments in the universe, including supernova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae, active galactic nuclei, and gamma-ray bursts. On the defense science front, the team supports a variety of weapons-relevant efforts including neutron-diagnosed subcritical experiments, developing advance optical diagnostics, and laser-based ranging diagnostics.

The Extreme Fluids team applies high-resolution diagnostics to study fluid dynamics problems in extreme environments, such as shock-driven mixing and variable-density decaying turbulence. Applications range from weapon design to astrophysics and inertial confinement fusion.

The pRad Science and Imaging team supports development, design, and execution of experiments at, and develops diagnostics and high-speed cameras for, proton radiography experiments at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center.

The Prompt Diagnostics team has expertise in modern diagnostics like energy release and Mie scattering, but also is responsible for understanding, archiving, and reanalyzing as needed a majority of the diagnostics that were used in underground testing, including gamma- and neutron-based diagnostics.

The Radiographic Science and Analysis team works to improve the radiographic information provided to customers from a variety of radiographic platforms in the complex. The team does this through a variety of means: maintaining the current capability for radiographic analysis, looking for ways to improve the analysis through acquiring fundamental data about aspects of the radiographic measurement like scatter, blur, and noise, and by investigating and implementing new techniques and algorithms for analysis.

The Technical Fielding team concentrates technical fielding and electrical safety expertise in a team from which all of the group’s needs for design, fabrication, and fielding support can be met.

The Weak Interactions team develops experiments to answer questions about the most basic nature of matter in our universe in extremely low-background experiments. The MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR experiment is actively searching for as-yet unobserved neutrinoless double beta decay in germanium. The LEGEND experiment is currently being constructed to push the search even further with a much larger detector.

Team Team Leader
Advanced Imaging Petr Volegov
Applied Materials & Weapons Physics Mandie Gehring
Defense Science & Astrophysics Pat Harding
Extreme Fluids John Charonko
pRad Science & Imaging Frans Trouw
Prompt Diagnostics Mike Ham
Radiographic Science & Analysis Maria Rightley (acting)
Technical Fielding Jeremy Danielson
Weak Interactions Steve Elliott

Our group includes a vibrant postdoctoral and graduate student community working on nuclear physics, fluid dynamics, astrophysics, and material science.

Our staff members contribute to Laboratory programs in stockpile stewardship by participating in the following:

  • Designing and fielding subcritical experiments
  • Running hydrodynamic experiments
  • Reanalyzing and archiving neutron data from past nuclear weapons tests