Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Utility Navigation Skip to Top Navigation Skip to Content Navigation
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

Global Security

Los Alamos' mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

April 12, 2012
Los Alamos researchers use a magnetic field detector to screen carry-on liquids at airports

Los Alamos researchers use a magnetic field detector to screen carry-on liquids at airports: MagViz project leader Michelle Espy demonstrates the MagViz liquid detection and analysis system in the Albuquerque International Sunport.


  • Operator
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • (505) 667-5061
Our mission: to provide early identification, creative maturation, and timely delivery of scientifically robust solutions to the most urgent and technically challenging security issues facing the nation.

Robust solutions to most urgent and technically challenging national security issues

Charlie McMillan, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Director McMillan on reducing global threats

The Global Threats' program at Los Alamos enhances our nation's security by developing and applying the Laboratory's technical capabilities to an array of threats that have emerged since the end of the Cold War.

These threats include

  • weakened control over nuclear materials and expertise from the former Soviet Union
  • proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the more lethal aims of today's terrorists
  • emergence of "rogue states" threatening U.S. interests, regional stability

Global Security Staff

Global Security draws on a staff with remarkable breadth and depth of scientific capability, professionals who have made their marks in nuclear engineering, astrophysics, statistics, computer modeling, risk assessment, detector development, and many more areas.

Program areas:

  • Emerging threats
  • Intelligence, defense, and counterterrorism
  • Nuclear nonproliferation and security
  • Threat identification and response

Recent Achievements & Research Breakthroughs

Improved Detection of Hazards

One of the gravest threats the United States and its allies face is the acquisition of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction by terrorists or rogue nations.

LANL provides technologies and expertise that systematically strengthen the capability to detect and interdict illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders. Deployment of radiation detection instrumentation at border crossings, rail crossings, airports, and post offices is part of this effort.

Aboard Mars Mission

Three LANL technologies are aboard the Mars Science Laboratory mission’s Curiosity rover. 

Los Alamos radioisotope batteries are providing power and heat to Curiosity and are driving the vehicle’s 10 scientific instruments. One technology, known as ChemCam, is mounted on the rover’s mast and will use extremely powerful pulses of light to vaporize pinhead-sized areas of the martian surface to provide scientists with crucial information about the composition of Mars surface materials. 

Another LANL technology, CheMin, is designed to use x-ray diffraction to determine the composition of samples that are collected and dropped into a funnel on the rover. 

Treaty Verification

LANL provides continuous treaty verification support, including support for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Reducing Proliferation Threats with IAEA

LANL’s expertise in nuclear materials technologies has played a significant role in mitigating proliferation in multiple areas. The expertise spans more than 40 years of direct support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including the development of nearly every nuclear materials assay technology, training for every IAEA inspector, and more than 50 ongoing safeguards technology development projects. 

Converting Weapons-Grade Plutonium for Use in Nuclear Power

LANL continues to employ Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System (ARIES) technologies to convert weapons-grade plutonium to blended mixed oxides for use in commercial nuclear power reactors.

Defeating Threats to the Navy

LANL successfully tested a new high-current electron injector, a device that can be scaled up to produce the electrons needed to build a high-power-free-electron laser prototype for the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Operating at the speed of light, the free-electron laser will protect the U.S. Navy’s fleet of the future by defeating multiple incoming missiles in different maritime environments with a high-power beam of wavelength-tunable light.

Minimizing Global Radiological Hazards

The Air Force Technical Applications Center acknowledged a LANL technical team for its outstanding technical analysis of radiological samples and consequence management support following the earthquake- and tsunami-induced damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The results were critical in helping the United States and Japan determine options for minimizing the impact of radiological hazards on the global population and environment.

Innovations for a secure nation

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

The Argus II will help people blinded by the rare hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa or seniors suffering from severe macular degeneration.

» All Innovations

LANL Calendar

Contact LANL

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1663
Los Alamos, NM 87545

Journalist Queries
Communications Office
(505) 667-7000

Directory Assistance
(505) 667-5061

All Contacts, Media

Visit Blogger Join Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter See our Flickr Photos Watch Our YouTube Videos Find Us on LinkedIn Find Us on iTunesFind Us on GooglePlayFind Us on Instagram