Sandia Labs News Releases

Category Archives: Nuclear Weapons

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Cognitive safeguards

How to multitask when nuclear nonproliferation is on the line

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New cognitive science research from Sandia National Laboratories shows that while maps can help someone identify landmarks while being escorted, using one also limits situational awareness and knowledge of surroundings not highlighted on the map. This finding is one of several coming from a three-year project that paired cognitive scientists and international […]

Photograph of Sandia technologists Curt Tenorio and Jessie Fowler install instrumentation on a B61-12 test unit for a vibration and shaker-shock test.

Sandia weapons program meets safety, design requirements

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories has successfully completed another milestone in the B61-12 gravity bomb refurbishment program, demonstrating the labs is meeting important nuclear safety and use-control requirements. “The Combined Engineering Judgment is an important step toward ensuring the B61-12 Life Extension Program is on track, and Sandia is meeting design and development requirements […]

Photo of Sandia National Laboratories Tonopah Test Range

Flight tests show B61-12 compatible with F-15E Strike Eagle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dropped from above 25,000 feet, the mock B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb was in the air for approximately 55 seconds before hitting and embedding in the lakebed, splashing a 40- to 50-foot puff of desert dust from the designated impact area at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. That strike was […]

Power Grid

Sandia initiatives to protect US energy grid and nuclear weapons systems

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To deter attempts to disable U.S. electrical utilities and to defend U.S. nuclear weapon systems from evolving technological threats, Sandia National Laboratories has begun two multiyear initiatives to strengthen U.S. responses. One is focused on defending large U.S. electrical utility systems from potential attacks by hostile nations, as well as from damage […]

Alan Mar

Award-winning engineer helps keep US nuclear deterrent safe from radiation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When nuclear radiation hits electronics, it cuts through semiconductors, leaving scars of charged particles that can flip computing bits and corrupt memory circuits, potentially disabling devices or causing erratic errors. Experts like engineer Alan Mar ensure components made for the U.S. nuclear stockpile pass stringent standards to resist radiation and remain safe […]

silicon wafer

National security chip plant gets an upgrade

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories has completed phase one of an anticipated three-year upgrade at its plant responsible for making integrated circuits, similar to computer chips. The facility is now fully compatible with industry-standard, 8-inch silicon wafers — thin, round starting materials used for making chips. Previously, Sandia used 6-inch wafers. Supporting the new […]

Earthquake or underground explosion?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories researchers, as part of a group of National Nuclear Security Administration scientists, have wrapped up years of field experiments to improve the United States’ ability to differentiate earthquakes from underground explosions, key knowledge needed to advance the nation’s monitoring and verification capabilities for detecting underground nuclear explosions. The nine-year […]

Photo of Ryan Kristensen, a member of the Accident Response Group.

Responders provide technical expertise in case of nuclear weapons accidents

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Decades ago, technical experts from the national labs responded in an ad hoc manner to accidents involving nuclear weapons, called “broken arrows.” Thirty-two such accidents have occurred since the 1950s, so the Accident Response Group was created about five decades ago to provide technical expertise in assessing and safely resolving nuclear weapons […]

Photograph of end view of blast tube in action.

Blast tube tests at Sandia simulate shock wave conditions nuclear weapons could face

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You can learn a lot from a blast tube. You can learn more when you couple blast experiments with computer modeling. Sandia National Laboratories researchers are using a blast tube configurable to 120 feet to demonstrate how well nuclear weapons could survive the shock wave of a blast from an enemy weapon […]

Top500 comparison chart

Supercomputing under a new lens: A Sandia-developed benchmark re-ranks top computers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Sandia National Laboratories software program now installed as an additional test for the widely observed TOP500 supercomputer challenge has become increasingly prominent. The program’s full name — High Performance Conjugate Gradients, or HPCG — doesn’t come trippingly to the tongue, but word is seeping out that this relatively new benchmarking program […]

A man in profile scans three white canisters with a brass box -- the new neutron detection equipment

New radiation detectors developed at Sandia used for New START inspections

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories designed, tested and delivered new radiation detection equipment for monitoring under the New START Treaty. Defense Threat Reduction Agency inspectors recently used this equipment for the first time in Russia for a New START inspection. New START, or the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, is a treaty between the […]

Sandia computer modeling aids solder reliability in nuclear weapons

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Solder isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as essential to a nuclear weapon. But since weapons contain hundreds of thousands of solder joints, each potentially a point of failure, Sandia National Laboratories has developed and refined computer models to predict their performance and reliability. “Computational modeling of solder joint fatigue […]

Side-by-side comparison of scintillators made from trans-stilbene and organic glass.

Scintillating discovery at Sandia Labs

Bright thinking leads to breakthrough in nuclear threat detection science LIVERMORE, Calif. — Taking inspiration from an unusual source, a Sandia National Laboratories team has dramatically improved the science of scintillators — objects that detect nuclear threats. According to the team, using organic glass scintillators could soon make it even harder to smuggle nuclear materials […]

Upgrades at Sandia’s Tonopah Test Range help weapons testing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former test director at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range has described its combination of old and new tracking and data-collection equipment as like a mix of horseless carriages and horses — you can’t feed oats to the horseless carriages and you can’t gas up the horses. It’s been a challenge […]


Overcoming the trust barrier in nuclear weapons verification measurements

Sandia method supports real-time warhead verification without revealing design data LIVERMORE, Calif. — Trust but verify. The catchphrase for arms control popularized by President Ronald Reagan sounds simple. However, verification involving sensitive data is a very complex endeavor. Verifying that a nuclear warhead actually is a warhead may include confirming key attributes. But the act […]

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