Research

Radiation Effects and High Energy Density Science

Rings of Saturn, Sandia's workhorse pulsed-power machine.

The Radiation Effects and High Energy Density Science Research Foundation seeks to advance science and engineering in the areas of radiation effects sciences, high energy density science, and pulsed-power science and technology to address critical national security issues.

Why our work matters

We address several issues key to nuclear security and maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile. For example, radiation effects science ensures that engineered systems are able to 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

Advanced pulsed-power and radiation-effects facilities allow for 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.

          Our approach

          Radiation-effects science

          Goal

          Ensure system performance in radiation environments

          Strategies

          • Pursue innovative solutions to improve — through physical simulation and/or computational simulation — the understanding of the radiation response of engineered systems
          • Develop new radiation-resistant materials and technologies
          • Create and use new technology to generate extreme radiation environments

          High energy density science

          Goal

          Address critical national security issues through research at extreme temperatures, pressures, and soft X-ray environments

          Strategies

          • Pursue a variety of scientific concepts to produce extreme environments of high energy density, including high-photon energy X-ray sources for radiation-effects testing, very high-pressure Hugoniot and off-Hugoniot dynamic materials-properties measurements, and intense X-ray environments for radiation physics
          • Explore innovative paths to high fusion yield in the laboratory, including stewardship applications enabled by high fusion yields

          Pulsed-power science and enabling technologies

          Goal

          Enable the construction and operation of terawatt to petawatt pulsed-power systems that deliver electrical energy in pulses that are flexible in shape and duration to different types of loads

          Strategy

          Advance such areas as materials, switching, power flow, and engineering to construct reliable pulsed-power systems that use linear transformer driver (LTD) architecture