Radiation Effects and High Energy Physics

A graphic shows suspended planets over a pulsed power machine. A Sandia physicist stands in front of a radiation portal monitor. A Sandia researcher holds an optical sensor to measure high voltages.

Advancing science and engineering in the areas of radiation effects sciences, electromagnetics, high energy density science, and pulsed-power science and technology is critical to addressing many national security issues. The fundamental research in these areas includes studying the nature and interaction of static and dynamic electric and magnetic fields, ensuring system performance in radiation environments, producing extreme temperatures, pressures, and soft X-ray environments.  

Why Our Work Matters 

One of Sandia’s critical missions is nuclear security and maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile. Radiation effects science ensures that engineered systems can operate as intended in the radiation environments they encounter. In addition, high energy density science validates models that are used to certify the performance of the stockpile, while pulsed-power science enables terawatt to petawatt pulsed-power systems. Such systems efficiently deliver electrical energy — in pulses that are flexible in shape and duration — to a variety of loads. 

Our Unique Value 

Sandia has advanced pulsed-power and radiation-effects facilities that enable cutting-edge research and vital national security applications.  

  • The Z machine uses the high magnetic fields associated with high electrical currents to produce high temperatures, high pressures, and powerful soft X-rays for research in high density physics. The Saturn X-ray source simulates the radiation effects of nuclear countermeasures on electronic and material components. 
  • The High-Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES) III accelerator is the world’s most powerful gamma simulator, primarily used to demonstrate the effect of gamma-ray radiation. 
  • The Annular Core Research Reactor (ACRR) is used for reactor-driven laser experiments, space reactor fuels development, pulse reactor kinetics, reactor heat transfer and fluid flow, electronic component hardening, and explosive component testing. The ACRR is also routinely used for education and training programs. 

Recent Highlights

The development of equations-of-state and transport models in areas such as shock compression and fusion energy...

Predictive design of experiments in Radiation, Electrical, and High Energy Density Science (REHEDS) requires knowledge of...

Low density plasmas are predicted to impact Sandia’s Z machine experiments in a variety of ways....

Electrothermal instability (ETI) is driven by Joule heating and arises from the dependence of resistivity on temperature....

Radiation Effects & High Energy Physics Related Research Facilities

The Power Sources Technology Group (PSTG) group provides comprehensive capabilities in power source research, design, engineering, characterization, evaluation, and testing.

Advanced Power Source Engineering Facility

ACRR is used to test objects in a mixed photon and neutron irradiation environment. Researchers conduct a wide variety of experiments in nearly every branch of nuclear science.

Annular Core Research Reactor (ACRR)

The AHCF is a nuclear facility used to characterize, treat, and repackage radioactive and mixed material and waste for reuse, recycling, or ultimate disposal.

The GIF provides high-fidelity simulation of nuclear radiation environments for materials and component testing.

Two colleagues walking outside of GIF building, located in Albuquerque, NM.

The HOT site researchers simulate conditions found deep underground to study the effects of heat on the drill rig hammer, and drill into various types of rock.

Two researchers observing effects of heat on the drill rig hammerTwo researchers observing effects of heat on the drill rig hammer

The IBL enables scientists to study and modify materials systems using ion and electron accelerators.

Scientist observing materials

JTA program allows critical assessment of weapon systems, Department of Defense (DOD) platforms, and support personnel performance.

Researcher working on a component

Operated by Sandia for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) is the only large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) and solar thermal test facility...

Tower surrounded by large mirrors

The PRF offers collaborators access to cutting edge diagnostic and computational capabilities and the expertise that is needed to set up and execute experiments and analyze data generated during the...

Atmospheric pressure plasma jet

The PSL provides technical guidance, support, and consultation and anticipates future measurement needs of the nuclear weapons complex and other DOE programs.

Two researchers observing dimensional measurement systems

The STAR facility provides a full range of pressure (bars to multi-Mbar) for material property study utilizing gas/propellant launchers, ramp-loading pulsers, and ballistic applications.

Ballistic test in launch

Z is the world’s largest and highest-current pulsed power machine and one of three flagship facilities in the U.S. Inertial Confinement Fusion Program.

Z Pulsed Power Machine

Related Intellectual Property

Patents & Applications (29)
Title Portfolio Patent Number Grant Date
High Luminescence Plastic Scintillators Radiation Detection 11,479,717 10/25/2022
Radiation detector using a graphene amplifier layer Radiation Detection 11,287,536 03/29/2022
System, algorithm, and method using short pulse interrogation with neutrons to detect and identify matter Radiation Detection 11,061,164 07/13/2021
Muon detectors, systems and methods Radiation Detection 10,921,468 02/16/2021
Hydrothermal aging-resistant plastic scintillator formulations Radiation Detection 10,732,304 08/04/2020
Compact radiation detector Radiation Detection 10,620,326 04/14/2020
Mixed compound organic glass scintillators Radiation Detection 10,508,233 12/17/2019
Muon detectors, systems and methods Radiation Detection 10,451,745 10/22/2019
Compact radiation detector Radiation Detection 9,993,894 06/12/2018
High-efficiency organic glass scintillators Radiation Detection 9,845,334 12/19/2017
Single volume fission energy neutron detector Radiation Detection 9,835,741 12/05/2017
Neutron detection apparatus and method Radiation Detection 9,733,367 08/15/2017
Filter arrays Radiation Detection 9,720,102 08/01/2017
Catheterized plasma X-ray source Radiation Detection 9,681,846 06/20/2017
Segmented scintillation antineutrino detector Radiation Detection 9,645,258 05/09/2017
Microstructured silicon radiation detector Radiation Detection 9,595,628 03/14/2017
High-yield entangled single photon source Radiation Detection 9,465,274 10/11/2016
3D target array for pulsed multi-sourced radiography Radiation Detection 9,269,524 02/23/2016
Compact ion chamber based neutron detector Radiation Detection 9,170,340 10/27/2015
Multiple-mode radiation detector Radiation Detection 9,116,249 08/25/2015
Hybrid scintillators for neutron discrimination Radiation Detection 9,029,807 05/12/2015
Plasma driven neutron/gamma generator Radiation Detection 8,971,473 03/03/2015
Ion chamber based neutron detectors Radiation Detection 8,912,502 12/16/2014
Wireless passive radiation sensor Radiation Detection 8,596,862 12/03/2013
Method for improving the angular resolution of a neutron scatter camera Radiation Detection 8,338,795 12/25/2012
Neutron scatter camera for improved neutron detection Radiation Detection 8,237,130 08/07/2012
Hybrid metal organic scintillator materials system and particle detector Radiation Detection 7,985,868 07/26/2011
Neutron scatter camera Radiation Detection 7,741,613 06/22/2010
Organic materials and devices for detecting ionizing radiation Radiation Detection 7,186,987 03/06/2007
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Current Radiation Effects and High Energy Physics Openings

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