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Operation Backpack organizers Karelyn Baker, left, and Rachel Sowell, right, talk to Sandia California Vice President Marianne Walck, center, about this year’s collection of backpacks filled with school supplies that were donated by Sandia California employees.

For the third year in a row, Sandia National Laboratories California has exceeded expectations by collecting 65 backpacks filled with school supplies for children of local military families, topping last year’s record of 48 backpacks. The backpacks were delivered to U.S. Army Reserves Garrison Camp Parks, in Dublin, California, and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.

Operation Backpack was founded as a way for the Sandia to thank military families for their sacrifice in service to the nation. The back-to-school season can be a stressful and costly time for any family, but can be especially trying for military families with a deployed family member or single-earner household.

By providing school supplies, the Operation Backpack planning committee hopes to alleviate the stress and let military families know that they are supported by the Sandia/California community.

Learn about the electromagnetic spectrum through the science and technology used within the Nuclear Security Enterprise.


You might see an NNSA helicopter in your city supporting national security by conducting radiation assessments in preparation for large events like the national party conventions, the Boston Marathon, and the Super Bowl.

OST vehicle

NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation is responsible for the safe and secure transport in the United States of special nuclear materials, which are transported in secure tractor-trailers and escorted by Federal Agents in escort vehicles to provide security and incident response in the event of emergencies.


NNSA team members throughout the enterprise volunteer and engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educational outreach. One program, hosted earlier this year, trained NNSA headquarters team members to get kids excited for STEM by giving away tiny microscopes.


NNSA’s laboratories buzz with activity in the health sciences: Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories helped uncover the viral mechanisms of infection by creating screening libraries based on special genome-editing technology.


NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is developing a “human-on-a-chip,” a miniature external replication of the human body, integrating biology and engineering with a combination of microfluidics and multi-electrode arrays.


From a brain-inspired supercomputer for physics simulations to materials science from the structure of cow eyes, NNSA’s laboratories are adept at linking biology with technology to shed light on the human brain.


The National Ignition Facility’s Advanced Radiographic Capability is the world’s highest-energy short-pulse laser, and takes high resolution X-ray images at very high speeds and brightness under experimental conditions – “tiny movies” – that are relevant to understanding the operation of modern nuclear weapons.

Small feature fabrication 3D printer

An award-winning 3D-printing device developed by NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory enabled the rapid printing of fine details over large areas, unlike any 3D-printing capability before.

Carbon nanotube

NNSA’s national laboratories apply tiny science to do all kinds of marvelous things, including making nanotubes more than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair to cheaply and quickly remove salt from water and pollution from the air.

Plutonium atom

NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory has a special facility for processing plutonium to support a wide range of national security programs including stockpile stewardship, nuclear materials stabilization, materials disposition, nuclear forensics, nuclear counter-terrorism, and nuclear energy.

Heavy water molecule

When deuterium, a non-radioactive isotope of tritium with a neutron in the atom in addition to the proton and electron, mixes with water you get “heavy water.” NNSA has been recognized for its commitment to serving the nation’s security interests and protecting the environment in its secure storage and inventory accountability of heavy water.

 Physicist Jim Bailey inspects a wire array at Sandia’s Z machine that will heat foam to roughly 4 million degrees until it emits a burst of X-rays that heats a foil target to the interior conditions of the sun.

By testing bits of iron at the temperature of the sun, physicist Jim Bailey at NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories and his team produced data to improve astrophysicists’ models of behavior of stars. For his work, Bailey will receive the American Physical Society John Dawson Award. The award annually recognizes excellence in plasma physics research.

Bailey used Sandia’s Z machine, one of the world’s pre-eminent scientific instruments, to conduct the experiments that produced the award-winning new research. Sandia’s Z machine was developed to help NNSA ensure the reliability and safety the nuclear stockpile by allowing scientists to study materials under extreme conditions. Bailey subjected iron to these extreme conditions to discover it can absorb much more X-ray radiation near the edge of the sun’s radiative zone than previously thought.

Not only will the new data will help improve theoreticians’ models of star behavior, they demonstrate to the stellar and high-energy density physics communities how pulsed power is becoming increasingly important as an experimental platform to study laboratory astrophysics.

The award is named for John Dawson, who realized computers could model behavior that had previously only been studied in laboratory experiments. Simulation has also become increasingly important to NNSA’s mission set in the absence of underground explosive testing.

Bailey will receive the award at the APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in November, in San Jose, California. Learn more about Bailey’s work in extreme physics, and read NNSA’s annual stockpile stewardship report.

On a recent visit to the Kansas City National Security Campus, NNSA Administrator Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.), left, tried out the Augmented Reality system. David McMindes, KCNSC's chief technology officer, explained how they work.

Imagine working on a car while wearing a pair of glasses that shows you how to replace your oil and even notifies you if something is placed incorrectly. Today’s technological advances are generating opportunities in manufacturing like never before. Information is presented immediately, right in front of a user’s eyes, to perform almost any task, prevent errors, and improve efficiency.

Engineers at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) are applying this Augmented Reality (AR) technology. It’s taking Virtual Reality a step further to incorporate computer data and overlay helpful information directly into a user’s field of view. Applications include work instructions, remote collaboration and real-time data. AR will benefit the KCNSC in numerous ways with its ability to convey information unlike any other means currently in use at the facility.

“Our ultimate goal is to simplify the operator's task of reading work instructions on computer screens or on paper,” said David McMindes, KCNSC’s chief technology officer. “We can do this by using smart technology like tablets and immersion goggles and interactive visual aids to provide real time feedback to an operator.”

With the combination of software and hardware, AR will create a more efficient, hands-free work environment while reducing lengthy training and dependency on historical knowledge. AR has the potential to drive productivity and reduce mistakes by finding new ways to deliver information and validate actions while completing manual tasks.