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.

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  • Deputy Group Leader
  • David Oro
  • Email
Inner workings of a wristwatch that was imaged by a new proton microscope

At right, a wristwatch was one of the first items imaged by a new proton microscope, designed by Los Alamos and international collaborators for the ring accelerator of the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany. At left, the inner workings of the mechanism are visible.

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 National Security Science team analyzes neutron data and other diagnostics from prior underground nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Nevada National Security Site, as well as develops atom-trapping experiments to search for parity violation in atomic transitions.

The Dynamic Radiography team develops diagnostics and high-speed cameras for proton radiography experiments at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. We are also helping to develop a neutron imaging camera and nuclear diagnostics for the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, an effort to achieve inertial confinement fusion.

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 Dynamic Materials team explores the physics of materials under extreme conditions. Tools for these energetically driven hydrodynamic experiments include high explosives; high-velocity gas guns; and high-current, high-voltage pulsed power. Sophisticated diagnostics like time-resolved pyrometry, x- and proton-radiography, multi-point laser velocimetry, and particle measurement techniques measure the phenomena of interest. We also develop and implement diagnostics measuring flow and turbulence associated with large wind-energy generators to improve their performance and reliability.

The Hydrophase and Sub-Critical Experiments team fields novel and unique diagnostics to measure and understand the behavior of plutonium under extreme conditions at the Nevada National Security Site in support of science-based stockpile stewardship. Primary thrusts include flash x-radiography, high-speed visible imaging, and high-bandwidth massively multiplexed velocimetry.

The Astrophysics team leads an international collaboration of U.S. and Mexican scientists in constructing the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC), a next-generation, high energy gamma-ray observatory at a high-altitude site in Mexico. HAWC will be 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.

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 will search for as-yet unobserved neutrinoless double beta decay in germanium. The Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment will search for charge parity violation in neutrinos.


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