Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Precision Strike Association awarded the 18th annual William J. Perry Award to the BLU-129/B Team, which includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore, the U.S. Air Force, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. The award honors the immediate and long-term impact of BLU-129/B on combat operations. As part of this joint effort, the Laboratory leveraged its long-term investments in computational codes, engineering expertise, and computing and manufacturing infrastructure to develop the munition in record time. The weapon represents a new class of innovative munitions, integrating disruptive technologies that significantly reduce collateral damage. The ability to couple sophisticated guidance systems with weapons that have a more accurate lethal footprint has been profound. The award is named in honor of former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry (1994–1997) and recognizes exceptional contributions to precision strike systems in the private or public sector by an individual or team.

Mark Zelinka of the Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison earned funding from NASA under its New Investigator Program in Earth Science. The NASA program, aimed at researchers who have earned their Ph.D. within the last five years, will fund Zelinka up to $100,000 per year over three years. With the funding, Zelinka will use detailed data from NASA satellites along with climate models to examine the vertical structure and optical properties of clouds. His goal is to understand how and why clouds change as the planet warms and what may be the implications of these changes for Earth’s climate. The NASA award is designed to support outstanding scientific research and career development of scientists and engineers at the early stage of their professional careers. The Earth Science Division places particular emphasis on an investigator’s ability to promote and increase the use of space-based remote sensing through the proposed research.

Two Laboratory researchers won the prestigious Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for their contributions to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) missions in science, energy, and national security. Livermore seismologist Stephen Myers was recognized for his work advancing national security and nonproliferation by developing seismic monitoring technologies to locate nuclear explosions. Former Livermore scientist Siegfried Glenzer, an 18-year Laboratory veteran who joined SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University last year, was recognized for his work advancing fusion and plasma sciences at Livermore’s National Ignition Facility.

The E. O. Lawrence Award honors midcareer scientists and engineers for exceptional contributions in research and development supporting DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Named for the physicist who cofounded Lawrence Livermore, it comes with a citation signed by the Secretary of Energy, a gold medal bearing the likeness of E. O. Lawrence, and $20,000.

Livermore’s Leslie Positeri and Brian Molyneaux received the Learning Champion of the Year Award at Skillsoft’s 2014 conference. This award honors individuals who show remarkable skills and innovation in delivering a successful learning program. Positeri is a senior training and development specialist in the Strategic Human Resources Management Directorate, and Molyneaux is the eLearning information technology lead from the Business Directorate. Together, they manage the Laboratory’s U-Learn Program.

Laboratory scientists Jennifer Pett-Ridge of the Chemical Sciences Division and Todd Gamblin of the Center for Applied Scientific Computing were selected by DOE’s Office of Science Early Career Research Program to receive up to $2.5 million over five years for their proposed projects.

Pett-Ridge will focus on understanding how changes in climate (rainfall and temperature regimes) in the tropics may affect the capacities of soil microbial communities that drive decomposition, nutrient availability, and carbon stabilization. The work will involve both field-scale ecosystem manipulations and controlled laboratory experiments. Her research will take advantage of Livermore resources such as the nanometer-scale secondary-ion mass spectrometer and the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry as well as collaborations with DOE’s Joint Genome Institute and Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory user facilities.

Gamblin will accelerate the adaptation of scientific simulation codes to increasingly powerful supercomputers, a process that currently can take up to six months for advanced applications. Increasingly complex machine architectures and applications are making this process even slower. Gamblin’s research is particularly important as the high-performance computing (HPC) community prepares to ramp up computing speeds from petascale (quadrillionsof floating-point operations per second) to exascale systems that will be as much as 1,000 times faster. HPC experts believe the first exascale systems will come online in the 2020 time frame.

Three teams of Laboratory researchers and two individuals were honored with NNSA Defense Programs Awards of Excellence for work performed in 2012. The Primary Design Code Team developed and implemented a new capability that has enabled unprecedented high fidelity in simulations of a wide range of programmatic applications. Examples include nuclear weapons disablement techniques, high-explosives initiation, safety-related experiments, effects of three-dimensional geometric features on weapons performance, and inertial-confinement fusion. The new capability provides a significantly improved representation of the underlying physics for many fine-scale phenomena.

The L1 Milestone Team used advanced science-based models and novel uncertainty quantification (UQ) methods to assess the quality of early-phase hydrodynamic models and to make a prediction, with quantified uncertainties, of a hydrodynamic experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The team developed and exercised a functional UQ methodology that incorporated both focused and integral physics experiments. This adaptive methodology allowed the team to complete UQ studies in a fraction of the time required by past methods. This achievement enabled, for the first time, a systematic analysis of all relevant focused physics experiments related to early-phase hydrodynamics and how they inform science-based models. The effort clearly described the weaknesses and strengths of the various models and where improvements are needed.

The Department of Defense/DOE TATB Technical Working Group—composed of many members including Lawrence Livermore researchers—played a critical role in finalizing a domestic production capability for the high-temperature explosive TATB (triaminotrinitrobenzene) at BAE Systems’s Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Tennessee and successfully qualified laboratory- and pilot-scale TATB production through the readiness campaign. Several years of effective leadership led to the restoration of a full-scale production capability for a material that is critical to the safety of both the conventional and nuclear weapons stockpiles. The determination and expertise of the group’s diverse participants enabled this complex endeavor.

Through years of consistent effort, Paul Nowak has developed a modern three-dimensional computational physics capability that has significantly redefined the simulation approach to nuclear weapons design and assessment, as used in the annual assessment review and in developing options for future life-extension programs. This capability combines improved physics fidelity with a computational efficiency that allows routine use on massively parallel supercomputers.

Over the last three decades, Wigbert Siekhaus has developed a complete and comprehensive model of the aging behavior of a major component in the detonation system used in Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos nuclear explosives. Documentation of this extensive work was completed in 2012. His results aided the decision-making process behind the forwarding of a Livermore weapon system for consideration as the warhead in the proposed long-range stand-off weapon. The corrosion of gold wires by lead–tin–indium solders has been a potential source of performance degradation in detonators since the early days of the Manhattan Project. It also is a source of concern for electronic components fielded in long-duration space missions supported by NASA.

A team of researchers led by Andreas Kemp received a 2014 Leadership Computing Challenge Award from DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) to further pursue the study of short-pulse laser interactions with solid-density plasmas using supercomputer simulations. The research project entitled “Laser-Driven Relativistic Electron Beam Filamentation in Solids” was awarded 30 million central-processing-unit hours on the Titan Cray XK7 supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the world’s second fastest supercomputer. The ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge Awards provide large computing time allocations on leadership-class supercomputer systems for projects of interest to DOE. The award will allow for large-scale simulations to be performed in support of Kemp’s 2012 DOE Early Career Research Program Award. This computer modeling work applies high-energy-density laser physics (HEDLP) to such astrophysical problems as gamma-ray bursts and the origin of cosmic rays. Other applications range from fusion energy to the controlled amplification of desirable radiation or particle beams of interest for possible medical use. Computer modeling is essential to the design and interpretation of experiments in HEDLP.