Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

Nuclear Physics

Leading discovery of new nuclear physics processes that shape the universe


Toward a new Standard Model

Physics Division scientists and engineers play an important role in the Laboratory’s Nuclear Physics program, funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics.

We lead efforts to discover new physics, beyond the Standard Model of particles and their interactions, by performing measurements of nuclear physics processes. Our priorities include the following:

  • Searching for new and exotic types of neutrinos, called sterile neutrinos. Through MiniBoone, MicroBoone, and the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment, we observe the transformation of one type of neutrino into another in a beam produced at Fermilab
  • Leading the construction of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR, an experiment deep underground that will look for an extremely rare decay of germanium nuclei that, if it exists, will show that the neutrino is its own anti-particle
  • Leveraging ultracold neutrons to make precise measurements of neutron decay that could reveal the existence of previously unknown virtual particles or new interactions
  • Leading the development of nEDM, an experiment to search for the extremely small electric dipole moment of the neutron, which could shed light on why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe

Deepening our understanding of quantum chromodynamics

Our work in quantum chromodynamics—the theory that the strong nuclear force holds together the atomic nucleus—involves the following:

  • Leading experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider to unravel the mystery of how laws of quantum chromodynamics create overall nucleon spin of 1/2
  • Leading efforts of the PHENIX experiment to understand a new state of matter, the quark-gluon plasma, formed when nuclear collisions lead to high energy densities, such as were present in the first few microseconds of the universe