Top 10 science and technology stories of 2014

In 2014, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) built on a 62-year tradition of translating basic science into technologies that ensure national security, address pressing real world problems and expand the boundaries of fundamental science.

The top stories of the year are a reflection of the Laboratory’s ability to apply its core national security competencies to a broad set of rapidly evolving national and global challenges, including: energy, climate change, biodefense and detection, forensic science, high performance computing and materials science.

The capabilities developed and applied to this research, such as high performance computing (HPC) and additive manufacturing, also serve to enhance the nation’s economic vitality and global competitiveness.

Because evaluating the long-term impact of recent scientific developments on a field of study or science in general is difficult at best, the following advances are not listed in order of scientific importance. These represent only a sampling of the science and technology produced at Lawrence Livermore during the 2014 calendar year.


  1. The National Ignition Facility, the world’s largest and most energetic laser, reached a major "fuel gain" milestone critical to ignition, the "holy grail" of inertial confinement fusion science. Ignition is the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel. Read more
  2. World renowned for its High Performance Computing (HPC) capabilities, Lawrence Livermore announced a contract with IBM to bring Sierra, a next-generation supercomputer to the Lab. HPC is critical to LLNL’s national security mission as well as to addressing other national and global challenges such as energy and climate change. Read more  LLNL’s Sequoia supercomputer was ranked No. 1 on the Graph500 list, a measure of a system’s ability to perform data analytics, released at SC14 on Nov. 18. Read more
  3. Mark Hart, a scientist and engineer in Lawrence Livermore’s Defense Technologies Division, was awarded the 2015 Surety Transformation Initiative (STI) Award from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Enhanced Surety Program for developing a code all but impossible to crack. Read more
  4. The Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lawrence Livermore up to $2.5 million to develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory. Read more
    In directly related research, scientists are developing an electrode array technology for monitoring brain activity as part of a collaborative research project with UC San Francisco to better understand how the neural circuitry of the brain works during memory retrieval. Read more
  5. A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have previously been missed by other technologies. This advance may, in time, allow an improvement in how soldiers' wounds are treated. Read more
  6. Lawrence Livermore researchers announced development of an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing. This 3D printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles. Read more
  7. A microbe detection array technology developed by LLNL scientists could provide a new rapid method for public health authorities to conduct surveillance for emerging viral diseases. Read more
  8. LLNL researchers have developed a material that is 10 times stronger and stiffer than traditional aerogels of the same density. This ultralow-density, ultrahigh surface area bulk material with an interconnected nanotubular makeup could be used in catalysis, energy storage and conversion, thermal insulation, shock energy absorption and high energy density physics. Read more
  9. A team of Livermore scientists use mini-satellites to help control traffic in space. The scientists used a series of six images over a 60-hour period taken from a ground-based satellite to prove that it is possible to refine the orbit of another satellite in low earth orbit. Read more
  10. Using satellite observations and a large suite of climate models, Lawrence Livermore scientists have found that long-term ocean warming in the upper 700 meters of Southern Hemisphere oceans has likely been underestimated. Read more 
    In another climate research development. Livermore scientists joined forces with eight other labs and the National Center for Atmospheric Research to use high performance computing to create the most complete climate and Earth system models designed to address the most challenging climate change issues. Read more

Additional research worthy of mention, and garnering international attention, includes LLNL research published about planetary formation. Livermore scientists for the first time experimentally re-created the conditions that exist deep inside giant planets, such as Jupiter, Uranus and many of the planets recently discovered outside our solar system. Read more