Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



Glenn A. Fox

Glenn A. Fox

Associate Director for Physical and Life Sciences

Investing in Research Frontiers

ACROSS Lawrence Livermore, including in the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, we must anticipate the future of science and technology and be bold in our investments to pursue cutting-edge advances. The Laboratory consistently promotes prominent programs, facilities, and capabilities that benefit our nation and help to address the pressing challenges we face. This issue of Science & Technology Review showcases several remarkable examples of how Laboratory support of promising research keeps us moving forward.

As the feature, Renowned Accelerator Facility Turns 30, describes, we celebrate the longevity and ongoing service of Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS). Since its inception 30 years ago, CAMS has supported scientific research for a diverse range of disciplines. This premier user facility is home to a variety of instrumentation, including multiple accelerators, ion implantation beamlines, and specialized ion sources. Working with colleagues both internally and externally, CAMS staff address challenges in nuclear forensics, chemistry, physics, biomedicine, climate science, geology, and other Earth sciences.

As a microcosm of Lawrence Livermore, CAMS embodies the collaborative, multipurpose pursuit of the Laboratory’s missions. From collecting specimens in the field to preparing samples in a laboratory and running measurements on accelerators, CAMS scientists embrace all facets of their work. A common refrain among the center’s staff is appreciation for access to top-tier colleagues, to world-class facilities, and to mission-driven investments. Enthusiasm is contagious at CAMS, right down to its flamingo mascot.

Three decades along, CAMS continues to conduct unique, forward-looking research. The center is an exceptional example of multidisciplinary science in action, attracting academic and industry collaborators and providing a hiring pipeline for the Laboratory. As CAMS pushes scientific advancements in environmental research and for human health, opportunities arise to bring evolving technology, such as CAMS’s laser-based system for radiocarbon analysis, to the marketplace. Through its emphasis on both applications and technology development, CAMS continues to be one of the world’s most versatile and productive user facilities.

Livermore’s research investments have also propelled the advances of technologies that promise to improve the state of the art. R&D Magazine’s annual R&D 100 awards salutes noteworthy scientific advances worldwide, and Livermore has gained a reputation for leading winning projects—many with technology-transfer potential. The 2017 awards ceremony brought a number of accolades to our scientists and engineers. Collectively, Laboratory staff were the lead developers on three winning innovations and also codeveloped four other recognized technologies. The highlights showcase these notable inventions: the Radiation Field Training Simulator, the Earth System Grid Federation, the Applied BiosystemsTM AxiomTM Microbiome Array, geometrically enhanced photocathodes, an aluminum–cerium superalloy, a new hydrogen safety sensor, and the National Risk Assessment Partnership Toolset.

The goal of science and technology advancement and the importance of long-term investment can also be seen in recent work at the National Ignition Facility, where experimenters are developing and implementing new diagnostic capabilities. Instruments Peer Deeply into Laser Experiments describes two advanced diagnostic instruments, one of which is still under development, that will help scientists design new experiments and investigate implosion processes and material phase changes.

In reflecting on the value of CAMS and these other important projects, I am struck by the breadth of work at the Laboratory aimed at making the world a better place. We achieve this goal through more versatile research, more precise detectors, more accessible data, more practical training, more efficient devices, more durable materials, more secure fuels, more accurate predictions, and more scientific progress. Our talented staff—truly a worthy investment—make these scientific and technological innovations possible.