Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Support the development of electromagnetic systems that are pervasive and paramount to LLNL as service to DOE, DoD, and the greater National Security community.

Mission Support

Stockpile Stewardship Science; High Explosives; Energy Security and Cyber Security, Space.


LLNL has demonstrated world-class R&D using electromagnetic infrastructure capabilities and computational electromagnetic codes adaptable to new problems in these areas:

  • Explosive pulsed power — world record current in high-energy-density physics experiments
  • Pulsed power technology — development of compact high-energy density storage and switching and high-voltage component technologies
  • Ultrawideband RF — communications, radar, radio frequency ID (RFID), geolocation, detection, sensors, situational awareness
  • High power microwaves — original approaches to high power solid-state RF
  • Pulsed power systems — high current accelerator systems and radiography (the Experimental Test Accelerator II (ETA-II) accelerator is a record-holder for high average power and was operated at 3 kHz 50-pulse bursts.)
  • Free electron laser (FEL) structures — continues to hold world record for FEL structure conversion efficiency (conversion efficiency of beam power into microwaves of 35% on LLNL's ETA. Microwave peak power outputs of 1 GW for the Electron Laser Facility (ELF) wiggler and 2 GW for the Intense Microwave Prototype (IMP) wiggler on ETA-II that drove the Alcator-C tokamak).
  • Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)/Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) — cutting-edge computational capabilities combined with dedicated experimental facilities for performing complex vulnerability analyses for the unintended generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy in harsh electrical environments
  • Kinetic Z-pinch modeling — particle-in-cell modeling of dense plasma focus (DPF) Z-pinches, with predictive capability for neutron yields and ion beam characteristics

Workforce — A world-renowned workforce with integrated experimental, computational, and analytical expertise from fundamental physics to completed operational systems.

Facilities and Infrastructure

  • Pulsed Power facility dedicated to pulsed power system and component development
  • Electromagnetics Laboratory facility with an anechoic chamber and laboratory space for high power RF and EMC/EMP/EMI experimentation
  • Radiographic charged particle accelerator used for hydrodynamic snapshots
  • Experimental particle accelerator for development of new accelerator components and experiments
  • Explosive pulsed power facility with state-of-the-art diagnostic and timing-and-firing capabilities
  • Leverages LLNL's world-class High Performance Computing infrastructure


  • Stockpile Stewardship — Pulse power for equation of state experiments, pulse power for lasers, and high current radiographic accelerators.
  • Global Security — The NNSA's Office of Emergency Response (NA-42) and Office of Nonproliferation Research and Development (NA-22) rely on electromagnetic phenomena for remote sensing and material security.
  • Work for Others — Successful ultrawideband RF program involving RF weapons, secure communications, and radar imaging. Other projects include Office of Naval Research railgun project, DARPA projects, and biomedical devices.

The Flash X-Ray (FXR) accelerator produces and accelerates the electron beam which is then converted to X-rays via the X-ray converter target. These X-rays then are used to image dense hydrodynamic events during shot-time in the Containing Firing Facility (CFF).

Model, fabrication and setup, and detonation of a pulsed power experiment—part of the Phoenix series of explosively driven magnetic flux compression generator experiments.

The ETA-II electron beam accelerator, a 5 MeV, 2 kA, 40 ns, 1 Hz (1 pps) accelerator used for accelerator component development and physics studies. ETA-II holds the record for high average power and was operated at 3 kHz, 50-pulse bursts.

The High Average Power Test Stand.

Low power experiments at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, involve (a) positioning an AH-1S Cobra helicopter on a foam support tower. LLNL's portable time-frequency source and diagnostic trailer was used for monitoring the AH-1S test points via fiber optic connections. (b) Continuous wave coupling measurements over a broad range represent a threat spectrum and include high-frequency-induced current measurements for monitoring the connecting signal lines and cavity coupling measurements. (c) Technicians place sensitive, nonobtrusive RF sensors in the helicopter.

The Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamics Test (DARHT-II) electron beam kicker and downstream transport system being tested in LLNL's ETA-II accelerator.

The stainless steel cylinder on the left is the Mag1D nonlinear magnetic pulse compressor. It is comprised of ferromagnetic core material, which largely determines the output pulse length.

As part of LLNL's ground penetrating radar experiments, modeling and simulation was also performed. In this image, the electromagnetic wave is shown propagaing through the aggregated concrete and reflecting off of the rebar structures.

This is the underside of the HERMES road scanning ground penetrating radar showing the phased array.

LLNL's Anechoic chamber is used for a variety of RF testing. Shown here is a broadband antenna undergoing pattern recording.

The effects of electromagnetic energy coupling into circuit simulations is shown with color-coded intensity.

Operation of a dense plasma focus (DPF) Z-pinch during beam-into-plasma experiments: This time-lapsed rendering illustrates the formation of an umbrella-shaped plasma sheath (purple) being accelerated down the length of a cylindrical electrode, eventually collapsing inward on itself to create a tremendously dense region (white). Simultaneously, an ion beam (green) is timed to pass through the device as the plasma collapses in on itself, to measure the acceleration of the beam particles.

Next Generation

  • First principles simulation capability for EM effects on circuits
  • High power microwave switch/amplifier R&D
  • Explosive pulse power system
  • Electromagnetic metamaterials
  • RF weapons systems
  • Compact and portable particle accelerator systems
  • Rail guns/electromagnetic launchers
  • Compact Z-pinch based neutron generators


Dave Weirup