< Sandia Labs Accomplishments 2004
[About Sandia]
[Unique Solutions]
[Working With Us]
[Contacting Us]
[News Center]
[navigation panel]

[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 56, Special Issue        March 2004
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

Back to Lab News Sandia Labs Accomplishments 2004 index

Nuclear Weapons (including pulsed power and radiation effects)

A major milestone was achieved on the Micro-systems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) project in FY03 with approval last May of Critical Decision 3, the formal authorization to begin construction. Construction contracts were awarded and construction is underway on both the Microsystems Fabrication Facility (MicroFab) and Microsystems Laboratory (MicroLab). A groundbreaking ceremony attended by our congressional delegation and NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks was held in August 2003 to celebrate this major event. (1700, 1900, 2300, 9100, 10200, 10500, 10800)

The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator Phase 6.2 is the first competitive weapon feasibility study to be initiated by NNSA and the military in more than 10 years. Two teams (from 2100 and 8200) have been formed to develop penetrator case and payload support designs for B61 and B83 warheads, respectively. Accomplishments in FY03 include preparation for a 2004 full-scale, proof-of-concept test, fabrication of the 5,000-lb penetrator needed for this test, and development of initial surety concepts and approaches to ruggedize the arming, fuzing, and firing set. (2100, 8200)

The Pen-X project explored two aspects of a conceptual cruise missile-penetrator weapon: addressing the difficulties of integrating a penetrating warhead into a cruise missile, and increasing its level of mission surety. In January at Tonopah Test Range, a large shaped-charge preconditioned a Sidewinder tuff target, and a Davis gun propelled the experimental penetrator into the target. The March experiment showed how mission surety is improved using Mission End-to-End Command and Control, which enables the weapon to intelligently respond to unexpected threats and take commands from humans via satellite communications. (8200, 2500)

A new photonic proximity fuze sensor is being developed under the DoD/DOE Munitions MOU that combines vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), resonant-cavity photodetectors, and micro-optics, and yields high single-mode optical power with microwave bandwidth. The team used flip-chip bonding of AlGaAs VCSEL epitaxial material to aluminum-nitride heat sinks to obtain output powers above 20 mW/50 mW (continuous/ pulsed) in a low-divergence beam without external collimating lenses. This lays the foundation for a fully integrated, miniature, high-power, electrically pumped laser for DoD/DOE/Army fuzing applications. (1700, 15300, 15400)

An Automated Current Stack Tabbing System (ACTS) is being developed by the Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center for the Ceramic and Glass Dept. 14192 to automate production War Reserve gluing operations. Dept. 14192 currently performs manual gluing operations by placing small tabs onto current stack components. To reduce part-gluing and clean-up times, the automated gluing station precisely applies conductive epoxy to the tab and current stack parts with a three-degree-of-freedom robotic manipulator. ACTS will replace human operators during FY04 once the WR qualification process is completed. (14100, 15200)

The Accelerated Strategic Computing milestone for hostile environment electrical simulation was completed. Revolutionary new capabilities to model the response of nuclear weapon electrical components in hostile X-ray radiation were demonstrated. This effort (which was also a corporate milestone) showcased the capability to transport radiation through a 3-D computer-aided design model of a reentry body to determine dose rate in electronics, as well as the ability to simulate the performance of an extremely complex application-specific integrated circuit. (15300, 1700, 9200, 8200)

The Advanced Radiographic Technologies program has successfully developed and is deploying a twin-axis flash X-ray radiographic probe underground at the Nevada Test Site for the Armando SubCritical experiment. This state-of-the-art system will diagnose plutonium spall strength under weapon-level loadings to benchmark design code models. The advanced accelerator and X-ray sources developed for this mission are being extended in close collaboration with the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Bechtel-Nevada, and LANL to address both NNSA and AWE future radiographic needs. (1600)

Sandia's Microelectronics Development Lab set a record fabrication time of six weeks (typically took 14-18 weeks previously) to complete the digital controller chip (Permafrost) for the stockpile life extension of the Trident nuclear weapon system. The chip was jointly developed by Microsystems Center 1700 and Electronics Systems Center 2300 and functioned properly on the first fabrication effort (first-pass success). This integrated circuit is intended to operate in extreme environments (including harsh radiation) at ultra-low power consumption.

Sandia's Primary Standards Laboratory (PSL) and the Neutron Generator Design and Production groups have formed an alliance to improve the quality of tester data. Sources of measurement variations and uncertainties are now more fully understood. The PSL has compared neutron measurements between tubes and generators and between tube testers and generator testers, performed voltage waveform analyses, and performed a complete uncertainty analysis of a tester and gas measurements supporting tube production. Control measurements have been implemented which are ensuring continued quality of product. (2500, 14100, 14400)

NNSA approved Critical Decision One in June 2003 to fund architectural and engineering design of the 29,000-square-foot LIGA Technologies Facility (LTF) at the California site. LTF is a cleanroom laboratory building that will enable research and development on advanced LIGA microsystems technologies to provide integrated metal, ceramic, and polymer microsystem assemblies for national security applications. Preliminary design is scheduled to be completed by May, and design approval will be sought in July. (8500, 8700)

The W80-3 Life Extension Program team successfully executed the first full-system nuclear safety drop test of the new W80-3 design with support from Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) and Weapon System Certification campaigns. PRESTO, an ASC-sponsored transient dynamic large-deformation mechanics code, was used to define the drop test configuration and to help select instrumentation and instrumentation locations. The test was performed at Sandia's Drop Tower Test Facility. (8200, 8700, 9100)

In March 2003 Sandia flew a W87 JTA-4 reentry vehicle (RV) and successfully tested the first wideband (20 Mbps) data link during the Flight Test Unit 17 mission. This vehicle was the most sophisticated yet developed for a flight test at Sandia. Along with the wideband transmitter, the RV incorporated other new technologies, including inertial measurement units, new shock sensors, distributed wireless sensors, and GPS. Future missions will use this wideband capability to gather critical data, allowing Sandia to ensure the nation's stockpile is in good health. (8200)

The Light-Initiated High Explosive (LIHE) Restart project team has successfully completed all of its Phase I milestones: the retraining of personnel; refurbishment of equipment; procurement of state-of-the-art instrumentation and diagnostic systems; and complete renovation of Bldg. 6715. The objective of the project is to reconstitute the Sandia capability that was mothballed in 1992 coincident with the end of the cold war. The main schedule driver for the project is W76-1 qualification testing slated for early 2006. (2500, 10800)

The CMS is a modern Permissive Action Link (PAL) code management system supporting the nation's PAL-equipped weapons. The CMS for the weapons in Europe was completed in 2001, and CMS is now being tailored for the weapons in the continental US. We met an NNSA milestone by delivering host processor and cryptographic processor software and production keys to support initialization of CMS products at the Honeywell/Federal Manufacturing and Technology, Kansas City Plant. (2100, 2116, 2900, 12300)

A 3-year program with an ambitious goal to improve the surveillance data infrastructure (ISDI) was initiated during 2003. The ISDI vision is that weapon-data users will have timely access to an accurate, easily understood, and complete set of data to analyze the health of the stockpile. This program represents a partnership among several centers to address a critical business need. Early accomplishments include conversion of at-risk legacy data, institution of surveillance data reviews, inventory of surveillance data, and software improvements. (2900, 2100, 2300, 2500, 8200, 12300, 9500)

The Development Joint Test Assembly (DJTA) for the W78 Mark 12A reentry vehicle was successfully launched from Vandenberg AFB in September 2003. The reentry vehicle was deployed from a Minuteman III ICBM and impacted near the Kwajalein Missile Range. The JTA6 features an advanced, modular telemetry system with a higher data rate, improved terminal event data noise immunity, and real-time capture of detonator and neutron detector waveforms. The first production unit will be delivered to the Air Force for its initial surveillance flight test in 2004. (2100, 8200)

A significant improvement in the correlation of neutron generator performance data taken at the Sandia Weapons Evaluation Test Laboratory (WETL) with that measured in the shelf life program at Sandia has occurred. The use of small solid-state neutron detectors with improved calibration techniques at WETL has provided W87, W80, and W78 neutron generator performance data that were within 12 percent of the shelf life measurements (previously factors of four or more difference had been observed). (2500, 2900, 12300)

The Navy conducted the first flight test of a W76-1 arming and fuzing system as part of the Follow-on Commander-in-Chief Evaluation Test (FCET) series. Early data indicate that the system performed its functions and gathered information on the reentry environment exactly as intended. The Arming and Fuzing System engineering team has been able to integrate radar, flight computer, and diagnostics in a single compact assembly. The design is meeting aggressive cost goals through use of commercial parts, innovative packaging, and automated production processes. (2300, 2100, 1700, 1800, 2900, 15300)

We led a joint effort among DOE, Sandia, and the Air Force to finalize the System 2 interface specification, which defines the digital interface between aircraft and nuclear weapons. Developing compatible System 2 weapons will be a major improvement to the use of nuclear weapons on modern aircraft (i.e., F-35). Unique analog devices are replaced by military standard digital messages. Weapon designers can now implement advanced operational concepts. The aircraft benefits from standard electrical interface signals and test equipment. (2100, 2900, 12300)

In April 2003 the W76 weapon assessment team provided a detailed surety analysis report of the W76-1 conceptual design. Weapon assessment teams are cross-disciplinary teams of surety analysts who review new weapon designs and stockpiled systems for nuclear safety, reliability, quality, use control, and surveillance concerns. The team shared the results of its analyses with the W76-1 program group, allowing the group to focus further analyses and tests on high priority surety concerns. (12300)

The 12300 "State of the Stockpile" provides critical independent assessment information to the annual stockpile certification. The reporting process had required 12 months from research to a publication in excess of 230 pages. Applying the Lockheed-Martin Lean/Sigma tools reduced the process to six months and yielded a concise 25-page report. Cost savings from the improved process are estimated at $340,000 in the first year and a labor-hour saving of 48 percent. (12300)

The Surety Assessment Center conducted independent quality assessments on procedures used in stockpile weapon systems modification, realization of Weapons Evaluation Test Laboratory equipment, and the qualification process for Sandia-designed products. Results: The effectiveness of the qualification process is dependent on the knowledge and experience of the Product Realization Team members and their interpretation of the technical business practices to conduct qualification of product. The processes in place provided sufficient guidance to accomplish the task. Opportunities for improvement were noted. (12300)

Dimming Sun 03, the largest combined nuclear weapon accident response exercise in United Kingdom history, featured some 2,000 representatives from both the UK and the US. Twenty-nine Sandians participated as part of the DOE/NNSA Accident Response Group. Three Sandians also helped plan the exercise. The exercise provided a realistic, challenging venue for both nations' assets to assemble, jointly organize, and execute a unified response to a simulated crash of a US aircraft carrying a cargo of nuclear weapons in British airspace. (2100, 3100, 5100, 5300, 5900, 9700, 12300, 12600, 15200)

FY03 marked the inauguration of a multiyear task to migrate the Joint Nuclear Weapons Publications System (JNWPS) from paper media to interactive electronic technical manuals. JNWPS publications contain policy and maintenance procedures for stockpiled nuclear weapons used by DoD and DOE personnel. The Technical Publications organization in coordination with DoD successfully conducted a technology evaluation, developed requirements, and made significant progress toward single-source publishing. FY04 will consist of staff training and document conversions; FY05 will see the achievement of full capability. (2900)

A rigorous "design-to-analysis" process for the development of the structural dynamics model of the W80-LEP and shipping container was highly successful. Centers 9100 and 2900 staff contributed to the project success through detailed planning and teamwork. The team integrated efforts in several areas: geometry simplification, element size and type, mesh-interface schemes, Patran and Cubit finite element modeling, element quality metrics, model check-out simulations, and model management. (9100, 2900)

We have successfully demonstrated a novel MEMS-based acceleration switch that can sense the unique environments associated with weapon re-entry. The Silicon Reentry Sensor (SiReS) is fabricated using Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE) and Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) processes developed at Sandia. More than 20 prototype units have been successfully fabricated, packaged, and tested. The project represents a spiral development effort that, if successful, could result in the first Sandia-designed MEMS device introduced into the enduring stockpile. (1700, 1800, 2300, 2600, 9100, 12300, 14100, Kansas City Plant)

A partnership among several Sandia organizations and the Kansas City Plant has successfully created science-based processes, models, and methodologies that will allow commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microsystem components to be used in War Reserve applications with high confidence. The predictive models have been validated with accelerated testing, and the models and processes are being implemented with parts for two ongoing Life Extension Programs, the W76-1 and the W80-3. (1700, 2300, 2600, 8200)

The first production lot of a new power supply was accepted on schedule in February. We developed this battery to replace a silver/zinc battery as the main JTA power source. The power supply uses commercially available lithium/sulfur dioxide "D" cells contained in a rugged battery pack. Small production lots of this power supply at EaglePicher are planned for the Concurrent Design and Manufacturing Program over the next several years to support NNSA requirements. (2500, 9100, 14100)

The design definition continued to mature during the third year of the W76-1/Mk4A Life Extension Program. The team passed the Conceptual Design Review, produced development hardware, and began critical tests. The first evaluation of an Arming, Fuzing, and Firing System passed all electrical functional requirements. The electrical interface between the Arming and Fuzing Subsystem and missile was successfully demonstrated. Fuzing hardware to measure radar performance was delivered on schedule for FY04 flight testing. (2100, 1700, 1800, 2300, 2500, 2600, 2900, 8200, 9100, 12300)

An NNSA Milestone Reporting Tool (MRT) has been developed by Sandia's Nuclear Weapons Strategic Management Unit. This tool tracks the status of all negotiated Level II milestones. The MRT is available to all sites and site offices in the nuclear weapons complex. The tool produces site-specific information on each milestone that can be rolled up by a federal program manager to assess the program status. A formal change-control process is an integral function of the tool that ensures complex-wide agreement on any program changes. (9700)

A successful new enterprise has been established -- the MESA Technology and Operations Prototype (MESA-TOP). The focus of MESA-TOP is to accelerate the development of advanced microsystems for use in real-world weapons applications. The MESA-TOP team includes experts in microsystems design, development, packaging, testing, analysis, reliability science, and systems engineering. The MESA-TOP facility includes offices for about 70 personnel and contains 5,000 square feet of world-class cleanrooms. The facility is located directly outside the Eubank Gate at 10420 Research Road. (1300, 1700, 1800, 2600, 9100, 14100)

Pulsed Power

The deuterium fuel in Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) capsule implosions has been heated to temperatures found at the center of the sun

(approximately 11 million° C), as measured via X-ray spectroscopy (see image below left) of argon dopants in the deuterium fuel. This temperature measurement, coupled with measurements of the emission of 2.45 MeV D-D neutrons, confirms the thermonuclear origin of neutrons from ICF capsule experiments driven by a 20 MA Z-pinch dynamic hohlraum. Scaling predicts ideal ignition at about 30 MA. (1600)

The dynamic material properties team (1600, 15300, Ktech, Bechtel) has developed a containment system that can shocklessly compress materials to >1.5 million atmospheres of pressure (one-third the pressure at the center of the earth) using Z, then hermetically seal the chamber in 10 microseconds. Six shots have demonstrated its reliability to contain hazardous materials, including a radioactive P32 tracer at 100 rem/hr of activity. This system enables revolutionary dynamic materials studies.

Last modified: March 25, 2004

Browse current and past Lab News articles

View Sandia news releases and fact sheets

Back to top of page

Questions and Comments || Acknowledgment and Disclaimer