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Innovations: Celebrating 70 Years

Since 1943, some of the world’s smartest and most dedicated technical people have accomplished the difficult, the unexpected, and what sometimes seems impossible at Los Alamos

70 YEARS OF INNOVATIONS Addressing the nation's most complex security challenges

x
x 1943
WAR-ENDING INVENTIONS
The Laboratory was created with one crucial objective: gather the world's brightest scientific minds to design and build a weapon that would help to end World War II.


Fight power with power
x
x1943
REVOLUTIONARY PHYSICS
Los Alamos scientists—many of whom fled Europe’s Fascist regimes—designed and rapidly built the first atomic bomb, helping defeat these World War II aggressors.
World's first atomic weapon
x
x 1943
FIRST REACTOR
Clementine, the first fast-neutron reactor fueled by plutonium, provided intensities necessary to advance nuclear science.
High-intensity neutron source
x
x 1946
NOVEL MATH
Unable to solve problems using conventional mathematical methods, we created algorithms, starting with the Monte Carlo method, which continues to enable discoveries.
Monte Carlo code
x
x1951
DAWN OF COMPUTING
Computer development exploded during the war. One of the first electronic computers, MANIAC supported atomic energy research, solving hydrogen-bomb design problems.
MANIAC solves design problems
x
x 1952
FIRST HYDROGEN BOMB
Scientists replicated the source of the sun’s energy, fusion, to create a more powerful weapon: the thermonuclear bomb.
Combines fission and fusion
x
x 1952
NEUTRINO DETECTED
A building block of life, this elusive elementary ghost particle is finally detected: the neutrino.
Revolutionary particle physics
x
x 1952
NUCLEAR POWER
The scientific prowess that ended a world war was next directed at peaceful use of the atom: empowering the planet with nuclear energy.
Atomic energy for electricity
x
x 1955
THE SPACE AGE
The first nuclear reactor-rocket program was launched to provide nuclear energy to propel an aircraft or rocket.
First nuclear reactor-rocket
x
x 1962
PHERMEX HYDROTESTS
How to test the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile without aboveground tests? Hydrodynamics simulations on PHERMEX.
Mock nuclear explosions
x
x 1963
GAMMA-RAY BURSTS
Designed and built to warn of banned nuclear tests, our Vela satellite instruments discovered cosmic gamma–ray bursts.
Satellites support science
x
x 1964
Accelerator aids physics
Enhancing previous designs, Los Alamos built vertical and horizontal Van de Graaff accelerators to deliver a steady beam of particles, supporting the study of nuclear physics.
Enhancing materials research
x
x 1969
Investigating space
Supporting investigations in space, we created an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay: the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG).
Enabling space missions
x
x 1972
Most powerful accelerator
Los Alamos introduced the world's most powerful proton linear accelerator to help address problems related to materials, nuclear medicine and national security.
Vital user facility
x
x 1973
Bursts discovered
Our sensors aboard Vela satellites discovered gamma-ray bursts that emit as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun will emit during its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.
Detecting dying stars
x
x 1974
First medical isotope
Los Alamos produced and shipped our first radioisotope. Today, we continue to supply international medical and research communities with certain types of this precious commodity.
Isotopes support medicine
x
x 1974
Vector supercomputer
Los Alamos acquired its first vector supercomputer. Such supercomputers used vector processors that greatly improved performance on numerical simulations important to nuclear weapons research.
Supercharged simulations
x
x 1974
Neutron research
The newly constructed Weapons Neutron Research (WNR) Facility used the proton beam from the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center to produce spallation neutrons for decades.
Producing protons, neutrons
x
x 1978
Guarding the world
We trained the first class of international atomic inspectors to ensure that nuclear technology and material does not fall into the wrong hands.
IAEA inspector training
x
x 1980
Powering pacemakers
A nuclear-powered pacemaker sounds like something out of science fiction. But we produced plutonium to power longer-lasting pacemakers.
Heart-pumping atomic battery
x
x1982
GenBank founded
Biophysicist Walter Goad and colleagues created GenBank, the national genetic-sequence database used by millions internationally to support health research.
Unraveling the human genome
x
x1983
Largest gas laser
Los Alamos built some of the largest and most powerful laser facilities in the world. Gas lasers are powerful and quite efficient, and we built the largest: Antares.
Laser fusion ignites
x
x1984
Detonation detection
Los Alamos X-ray detector launched aboard GPS Satellite. The goal of these concept-validation satellites was to monitor for nuclear detonations.
Piggybacking on GPS
x
x1987
Creating supercomputers
Los Alamos developed HIPPI, an interface that transmits large amounts of data and interconnects computers to perform as a supercomputer.
Parallel computing is born
x
x1988
Superconductor support
We established the Superconductivity Technology Center (STC) to help develop electric power and electronic device applications for high-temperature superconductors.
Resistance-free electricity
x
x 1992
Fastest connection machine
Installed at Los Alamos, CM-5 had a theoretical peak speed of 130 gigaflops, more than a factor of 1,000 over the Cray-1. The parallel supercomputer ran the most demanding algorithms.
Speed is the thing
x
x 1994
Nuclear testing ends
With the end of nuclear testing, science and simulation shape a new direction for ensuring reliability of the nuclear deterrent, combining advanced theoretical and experimental capabilities with supercomputing.
Science-based stewardship
x
x 1995
Mapped Chromosome 16
Chromosome 16 contains genes associated with blood disorders, kidney disease, leukemia and various forms of cancer.
Detecting disease causes
x
x 1995
Proton radiography
In 1995, Los Alamos rivaled Superman by inventing its own form of X-ray vision, proton radiography, which can image light materials encased in heavy metal objects.
X-ray vision
x
x 1998
First plutonium pit
We produced the first pit for the W88, a thermonuclear weapon deployed by the U.S. Navy on Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Mastering pit development
x
x 2000
Quantum dots
Able to manipulate at the atomic level, scientists are creating new materials and devices billionths of a meter small, aiding bio-med, electronics, quantum computing and solar energy.
Brighter nanotechnology
x
x 2000
First weapon simulation
Researchers completed the first full-system 3D nuclear weapon explosion simulations (two of the largest ever) so dangerous tests were unnecessary.
Revealing 3D Simulations
x
x 2002
Water on Mars
Los Alamos instruments find indications of massive amounts of water on Mars, further supported by our analysis and mapping that detected telltale signs—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Providing the evidence
x
x 2005
Largest bio simulation
Multi–million–atom computer simulation—first to observe the entire ribosome in motion at the atomic level reveals genetic detail that aids drug development and medical breakthroughs.
Largest biology simulation
x
x 2006
Predicting space radiation
Space is stormy and filled with radiation that destroys space systems, including satellites. A new model helps predict hazards to steer clear of danger.
Protecting satellites
x
x 2006
Novel nanoscience
We opened a world-class user facility, the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), to investigate all aspects of the manipulation of matter at atomic scales.
CINT user facility
x
x 2006
First thinking telescope
Without human guidance, our telescope found an anomaly: the birth of stellar–size black holes, possibly the most powerful events since the Big Bang.
RAPTOR sees into space
x
x 2008
Fastest supercomputer
The world’s most powerful computer, Roadrunner, was the first to exceed one quadrillion calculations per second—about a million times a laptop’s capability.
Breaks petascale barrier
x
x 2008
Powerful X-ray
The world’s most powerful X-ray machine, DARHT, produces freeze–frame 3D radiographs of materials imploding at speeds greater than 10,000 miles per hour.
First 3D radiographs
x
x 2008
Cheaper, faster security
MagViz, utilizing MRI technology fine-tuned for airport security and more portable, quickly discerns between benign and harmful liquids—even concealed in a beverage bottle.
MagViz: better than X-ray
x
x 2009
First cytometers
We invented tools to sort and analyze millions of individual cells per second, accurately and efficiently enabling biological and drug discoveries.
Better cell analysis
x
x 2010
Hand-held satellites
Miniscule satellites are inexpensive and versatile, and fit on almost anything launched into space. We built and launched four CubeSats within a few months, validating inexpensive design methodology that could withstand space radiation.
Afforable space research
x
x 2010
Disaster support
Our experts were called in during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, where we conducted the world’s deepest underwater gamma radiography to determine condition of Blow Out preventer valves.
Deepest underwater radiography
x
x 2011
Fuel Cells
Want an energy source that doesn’t require recharging, doesn’t use fossil fuels and only emits heat and water? Fuel cells create electricity to power a motor. We created novel scientific methods to increase efficiency, lower costs and make them more environmentally friendly.
Cheaper, cleaner electricity
x
x 2013
Chemcam meets Mars
We continue to aid exploration of the Red Planet. Researchers discovered a streambed and tracked a trail of minerals that suggests water—lots of it—may have flowed.
Biosignatures in space
x
x 2013
Green energy
How to power seven billion people with dwindling resources? Researchers are exploring competitive alternatives to crude oil. One environmentally friendly option? Pond scum.
Algal biofuels
x
x 2013
Better cancer detection
Women may soon have safer, inexpensive and accurate scans that find early-stage breast cancer. We developed a better way to screen, using sound waves instead of dangerous X-rays.
Safer breast screening
x
x 2013
Argus II: bionic eye
With Los Alamos research developments, the bionic eye is one step closer to becoming a reality, helping people suffering from loss of vision caused by diseases and aging.
Restoring vision
x
x 2013
HIV vaccine
Racing for a cure, scientists may overtake AIDS, the disease that has killed 25 million people. With our mosaic vaccine to fight AIDS scheduled for human trials this year, is the three–decade race’s finish in sight?
AIDS’ Achilles’ heel
x
x 2013
Fuel from waste
Creating fuel from stumps, stalks or weeds is highly desirable but difficult. We developed multiple methods to efficiently covert grass into gold.
Cellulosic biofuels
x
x 2013
QUANTUM FINGERPRINTS
We developed an impenetrable line of defense known as QKarD, which loads quantum cryptography onto a smartcard or phone to secure private information.
PROTECTING COMMUNICATIONS
x
x 2013
IBEX SATELLITE
Instruments aboard NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission probe the edge of our solar system, providing new panoramic views of our galaxy’s gateway.
INVISIBLE INTERACTIONS OBSERVED
x
x 2013
TRIDENT LASER
Several important discoveries and first observations have been made at the record-breaking laser facility. Physics capabilities not found elsewhere in the world.
NUCLEAR MATERIAL DETECTION
x
x Creating tomorrow
Predicting challenges
Predicting how materials will behave, forecasting how a hurricane may affect a coastline or calculating energy needs for an expanding nation—a few examples of how we solve tomorrow’s problems today.
Preparing for tomorrow
x
x Creating tomorrow
Extreme materials
Understanding the structures and properties of materials, the foundation of modern life, and designing them to perform better is one of our greatest strengths.
Unique facilities, challenges
x
x Creating tomorrow
Threat detection
Detecting and discerning signatures—recognizable patterns or marks—helps us protect the world from nuclear threats, biothreats and environmental hazards on Earth and in space. These signatures also lead to new discoveries.
Assessing signatures
x
x Creating tomorrow
A changing climate
Earth and climate variations affect safety, from earthquakes to extreme drought, flooding to hurricanes. Diverse research supports accurate modeling and mitigation.
Our environment
x
x Creating tomorrow
Radical computing
To solve tomorrow's complex science problems, supercomputing needs to exponentially increase. High–performance computing is changing directions.
Beyond exascale
x
x Creating tomorrow
Hidden dangers
New dangers require new defenses. We are experts at seeking and identifying threats in the skies, on the ground, underground and around the world.
Satellites and surveillance
x
x Creating tomorrow
Our evolving mission
The men and women of Los Alamos apply the most advanced science and engineering solutions to address the world's most complex and pressing security challenges.
The future of Los Alamos Lab
x

All Innovations (in list format)


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