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Pulsed Power Technology &
Radiation Effects Science


Z-Machine

Time-exposure photograph of electrical flashover arcs produced over the surface of the water in the accelerator tank as a byproduct of Z operation. These flashovers are much like strokes of lightning

Contact Information

For Radiation Effects please contact Tom Laub
twlaub@sandia.gov
(505) 844-9142

For Pulsed Power please contact Steve Glover sfglove@sandia.gov
(505) 845-9620

Related links
Sandia Labs Employment for Student Programs


Center for Cyber Defenders Program

Current and Past SEERI Students

Andy Biller (2011-2012)

I will be heading into my sophomore year as an undergraduate student at New Mexico State University this fall. I have decided on studying Engineering Physics with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering, so I should be kept plenty busy during the school year when I am not at Sandia. This summer I was tasked with re-developing a calibration stand for the Saturn Accelerator to solve the problem of not having accurate readings on how the accelerator is performing. I plan on returning to the same organization (Org. 1342 – Above Ground Testing) next summer, which will be my third year at Sandia National Laboratories. I love the environment and the work I do here and look forward to spending many more summers working at the labs.

Ross Falcon (2012)

I’m a graduate student in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m leading a fundamental science astrophysics experiment using the Z Facility. We use the x-rays from a z-pinch to create macroscopic (hotdog-sized) plasmas with white dwarf atmospheric conditions and measure their spectra. The aim is to test atomic line shape theory used in white dwarf atmosphere models.

Jonathan Roeltgen (2012)

I am an undergraduate going into my senior year at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where I will be finishing my bachelors degree in Physics. I plan to go on to get a PhD in Physics when I graduate.

This is my first summer at Sandia, and I have worked in organization 1644 (ICF Target Design) where I have helped to simulate the Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (MagLIF) with the 3D Gorgon code. I had the chance to update the code at times and learned a lot about scientific computing while at the same time improving my overall skills in computer programming. My time at Sandia has helped me better understand what my interests are and where I want to go in the future.

Michael Rigley (2011-2012)

I am a PhD student at Utah State University in Applied Mathematics, specifically in the field of computational mathematics. This is my second summer at Sandia in the Radiation Effects Department. I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from this experience. I research preconditioning techniques for linear systems within finite element codes for neutron transport equations. This summer I wrote a finite element code for the neutron transport equations with two methods of solving it. One included a least squares approach that produces symmetric positive definite matrix that can utilize fast linear solvers like the conjugate gradient method. The second was a more direct approach that used discontinuous finite elements with an upwind scheme that was more accurate, but slower than the least squares approach. I wrote code for one and two dimensional equations and created and tested several preconditioners on the resulting linear systems.

The workplace environment at Sandia is perhaps the best that I’ve been a part of. The people here are friendly and love their jobs. The managers and mentors that I have had and been in contact with are very motivated in their fields, presenting interesting problems for projects. They also provide frequent and very helpful feedback. The SIP and SEERI staff are also very helpful, providing opportunities to take tours of other parts of the lab and learn about the frontier research going on throughout the labs and providing opportunities to meet other interns.

Andre Esteva (2012)

Andre received his bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and Pure Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. He joined SEERI for 6 months immediately following his graduation in order to work in Org. 1641 on the current pulse optimization of the Z-Machine. While in SEERI, he developed a genetic algorithm that automates deriving the Z-Machine configuration needed to provide a given current versus time pulse. It will save several Z-Machine researchers 5-6 hours every other week from doing the mind-numbing derivation by hand. He will be joining Stanford's Materials Science and Engineering PhD program as a DOE Fellow and Stanford Graduate Fellow in September 2012. He had a great time in Albuquerque and with SEERI, and highly encourages students to pursue opportunities at Sandia Labs!

Aaron Olson (2010-2012)

I received my bachelors in Nuclear Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly UMR) in May 2011.  For the 2011-2012 school year I studied at the Kanakuk Institute, which partners with John Brown University, and am currently finishing the last few classes to earn a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from there.  In Fall 2012 I am starting my PhD in Nuclear Engineering at UNM, being funded by a fellowship from DOE through NEUP (Nuclear Energy University Program).  I am hoping to find research in close correlation with the work of 1341 here at Sandia.

This (2012) is my third summer at Sandia as a student intern, each time in 1341 working on different aspects of the radiation transport code SCEPTRE.  I have researched the creation of guidelines for choosing error metrics and exploring correlations between forward and backwards flux in stochastic meshes, and am now quantifying error in a new approach to stochastic mesh calculations with comparatively large material segments.

My time at Sandia has opened my eyes to many aspects of the professional world including how the Sandia work environment functions and what it looks like to be a research engineer working with code.  It has also given me a basic understanding of the mission of Sandia, the facilities and codes of Sandia, and how the two fit together.  My time at Sandia has already helped me greatly in my professional development, and I anticipate that it will much more in the future.

Mitchell Maier (2011-2012)

My research and academic focus is in materials science and engineering. I recently finished my bachelor’s degree in this discipline at New Mexico Tech and will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall to begin pursuit of a doctorate degree in the same field.
My time spent at Sandia has been focused on working with materials for pulsed power systems. I have worked on a few materials for pulsed power machines, but during my stay, I was chiefly concerned with the fabrication of conductive polymers for the Z-machine.  When completed, the conductive properties of these polymers will assist with the field-shaping within Z and allow for significant increases of the voltages the machine can be fired at. With this end result in mind, it has been easy for me to see where my work fits into the big picture of pulsed power, and so accordingly the prospect of success here at Sandia has been very exciting.

Chris Parzyck (2010-2012)

I am an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego (Sixth College) working towards a B.S. in both physics and in mathematics.  During my 2010 Internship at Sandia National Laboratories I had the opportunity to work in organization 1344 (Radiation Effects Research).  There I developed and updated programs to manipulate and analyze Xyce circuit simulation models as part of the QASPR effort (Qualification Alternatives to the Sandia Pulsed Reactor).  During my Summer 2011-Fall 2012 internship I continued working in org. 1344 helping to implement a new compact photocurrent model for Xyce based on work done by Carl Axness and Bert Kerr.  I also had the opportunity to work on experimental design projects for SNL’s Saturn accelerator as well as data analysis and image processing projects.  The Sandia Student Internship Program and the SEERI program in particular, has given me the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real world problems and develop useful skills in physics, mathematics, and computer science.

Andrew Tonigan (2011-2012)

I am entering my final semester at the University of New Mexico in pursuit of a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering. I am driven to pursue scientific research that can be exploited for the benefit of mankind as well as the approach the practical problems that accompany it. My work at Sandia National Labs as part of the Sciences of Extreme Environments Research Institute and the Applied Nuclear Technologies group has been focused on pulsed research reactors and characterizing the radiation environments they generate. I have gained extensive experience with the data acquisition hardware and data analysis software that is used to measure pulsed nuclear reactor environments. This process involves data generated from fast response radiation detectors, calorimeters, and activation foils. I greatly enjoyed working with the ACRR reactor and other pulsed reactor facilities from the perspective of an experiment designer and performer.

Cory Peterson (2010)

I am currently going into my Senior year at Arizona State University, and will be finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering in the spring. Some of my interests in electronics are Radiation Effects, Analog Circuit Design, and Microcontrollers. I plan on attending Grad School for at least a Master’s Degree after I graduate, and probably a PhD sometime in the future.

This was my first summer working at Sandia, and I have enjoyed the experiences and exposure to different things I’ve received. While at Sandia, I have worked with many different things, from lasers to electron beam guns, and have gotten a greater understanding of how research is performed. I’ve learned in much more detail how understanding semiconductor device physics is extremely important in the understanding of the effects the environment can have on a transistor and the larger circuitry. The amount of knowledge and experience gained here will be instrumental in fulfilling my Graduate School goals. All of the people I have met here are very friendly and have made the summer a great internship experience.

Jennifer Ellis (2010-2012)

My name is Jennifer Ellis and I am an undergraduate at the University of Texas currently working towards bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Astronomy. I am fascinated by the universe and inner workings of celestial bodies but crave a more hands on, experimental approach than is traditionally possible in the field of astronomy. This has driven me towards the small, specialized field of Laboratory Astrophysics, which requires High Energy Density capabilities rarely accessible in a university setting. I worked on a joint project between SNL and UT that is utilizing the Z-Machine to recreate the photospheric conditions of white dwarf stars. The aim is to extensively study emission spectra in certain temperature and density regimes in an effort to improve the modeling of these stars. My summer with Sandia and the SEERI program has been an invaluable opportunity that would not have been available to me in a university laboratory.

Jennifer Ellis Publications

Laura Johnson (2010-2011)

My name is Laura Johnson and in August 2010, I will start my first year as a graduate student at Cornell University in the Plasma Physics Department. This was my second internship at Sandia and this summer I worked in the High Energy Density Physics Theory Department. During my internship, I implemented various theories to calculate thermal conductivities of dense hydrogen in conditions where there is currently no experimental data. My first internship at Sandia was three years ago in a clerical position. I recently received my undergraduate degree from Hendrix College in Conway, AR in Physics, and did research at Hendrix during the summers of 2007 and 2008 on the production rate of neutrino induced electron-positron pair creation.  

Michael King (2010)

I have a degree in Applied Mathematics from UCLA and am currently a graduate student at Vanderbilt University in the Electrical Engineering department, Radiation Effects and Reliability (RER) group.  Active areas of research focus on semiconductor device physics, semiconductor device reliability, modeling carrier transport mechanisms and the impact of particle track structure on single event effects.

My current work at Sandia involves the characterization of interface trap formation on SONOS memory during device operation. The work includes the development of automated, stable test methods involving multi-level, variable frequency charge pumping techniques to study defect densities at the different insulating layer interfaces.  Additionally, we hope to study the impact of gamma irradiation on reliability for these types of memories.

Sean Lewis (2010)

I'm Sean Lewis and I just finished my first year of graduate work in physics at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally I am from Bloomington Indiana, where I also obtained Batchelors degrees in Physics and Math from Indiana University. Now I aim to obtain a doctorate in plasma physics with Roger Bengtson and Todd Ditmire at UT. Here at Sandia, I am working with Ken Struve and Brian Stultzfus on the pulsed power driver for the cluster fusion experiment that I will be working on for the next several years. This is my first time working at Sandia, and I am finding it to be a dynamic and fascinating place to learn about unique research.

Tommy Holschuh (2010)

My name is Tommy Holschuh and I will be a sophomore undergraduate student at Oregon State University this upcoming fall.  I am pursuing a degree in Nuclear Engineering.  I have worked at Sandia National Laboratories for several years.  This is my fourth summer at Sandia, in addition to two school years. 
I have worked in Org. 01658 (Fusion Technology Programs) for the entire time while here at Sandia.  This summer, I have been doing torque and force calculations with Opera 3D to analyze the attachment points of Test Blanket Modules onto the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

Thomas Holschuh Publications

Caleb Waugh (2009-2010)

My name is Caleb Waugh and I am a second year graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My interests are primary in plasma physics and fusion technologies with potential energy applications. Pursuant to my interests in energy and fusion, I am currently finishing a master’s degree in energy policy and energy economics with the MIT Technology and Policy Program and in the fall will begin a PhD in plasma physics with Dr. Richard Petrasso’s ICF group. Prior to attending MIT I completed degrees in Electrical Engineering and Philosophy at Brigham Young University.

As an intern for the last four summers at Sandia, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Ken Struve in Org. 1676 (Advanced Accelerator Physics) and Org. 1670 (High Energy Density Physics) supporting various projects related to the Z-Machine and fusion. During my first internship in 2007 I was responsible for programming a control system for the automatic debubbling subsystem as part of the Z Refurbishment project. While in my second internship in 2008, I was tasked with developing a transmission-line circuit model of the refurbished Z-Machine using Electro, Coulomb, Ampere, and Bertha codes. In 2009 and 2010, I worked on a LDRD project in collaboration with the University of Texas to develop a pulsed-power driver for cluster fusion experiments. In addition to opening numerous doors and providing invaluable work experience, interning at Sandia has given me lasting friendships and fond memories while working in a challenging but exhilarating environment.

Caleb Waugh's Publications

Allison Barber (2008-2010)

I am currently working on a masters degree in Nuclear Engineering at the University of New Mexico and graduated with a bachelors degree in Nuclear Engineering from UNM in May 2008. I have been a student intern at Sandia since March 2008. My work currently consists of completing my thesis, which is the Uncertainty Analysis of a Critical Experiment and linking the sensitivity analysis with the sensitivities produced from TSUNAMI-3D. I am also working on becoming a qualified criticality safety engineer. The organization that I work in has really given me a great and unique opportunity and I could not imagine working in a better place.

Allison Barber's Publications

Paul Stanfield (2009-2010)

I am an undergraduate student from the University of Michigan and am currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics with an interest in optics. This was my first year at Sandia National Laboratories. My job was working on code development for ITS. I had previously worked with MCNP and Fortran doing research on gamma radiation detection at my university. This experience with transport codes and Fortran programming proved invaluable. My work included adding volume outputs and higher order nodes to ITS’s finite element files along with a number of minor changes. These changes helped increase the accuracy of data transferred from ITS to finite element codes. It proved to be a great opportunity that has given me great practical work experience and programming experience. In addition, I was able to see and hear about exciting research taking place at Sandia through SEERI. It was a great experience that I would recommend for anyone.

Paul Stanfield's Publications

Michelle Williamson (2009)

I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Pennsylvania. This past summer was my first summer working at Sandia National Laboratories, and it was my first research experience outside of college laboratories.  I was able to get hands on experience in the lab that complemented what I have learned in class.   Overall, it was a great learning experience that I consider to be as valuable as the classroom in my education. 

Robert Wills (2009)

Hi my name is Robert Wills and I am a graduate student at UC Berkeley in Engineering Physics. My interests include plasma physics and condensed matter physics. I have research background in radiation detection and electromagnetic modeling. At UC Berkeley I worked with radiation detectors as a part of a group researching Compton Imaging Radiation detection, a method that utilizes two detectors to narrow the range of space from which radiation is being emitted. This research was focused at non-proliferation applications. My research at Sandia focused on modeling a plasma in finite element electromagnetic code for electromagnetic analysis of plasma facing components in the ITER tokomak reactor. I also investigated the effects of using ferritic materials in the plasma facing components of ITER. I am now continuing my undergraduate studies and seeking a new research position.

Robert Wills's Publications