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Special Feature: National Security & Public Safety at the National Labs

December 4, 2013 - 4:10pm

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In the photo above, a robot investigates a bomb threat at an arcade during the 2013 Robot Rodeo at Sandia Labs. The operators are not allowed to turn on the lights or turn off the machines, complicating the operation. | Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories.

In the photo above, a robot investigates a bomb threat at an arcade during the 2013 Robot Rodeo at Sandia Labs. The operators are not allowed to turn on the lights or turn off the machines, complicating the operation. | Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories.

For more than 60 years, the Energy Department's National Labs have played a crucial role in the national security of the United States. Founded during the immense investment in scientific research and technical innovation in the period preceding World War II, the National Labs conduct cutting edge research in a diverse variety of fields, advancing the safety and security of the American public. This month on energy.gov, we're highlighting that great work -- from cybersecurity to robotics and beyond.

One of the key missions of the Energy Department is guaranteeing the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, scientists develop and employ the tools, technologies and high performance computing resources necessary to support the stockpile stewardship program.

The National Labs also support U.S. national security in other equally important ways. Argonne National Lab has helped local and state governments develop emergency plans, run drills for pandemic outbreaks, and analyzed ways to enhance security at plants and factories across the country. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers study counterterrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They have developed a first-of-its-kind framework for major metropolitan areas that covers natural threats and the long term complications arising from biological, chemical and radiological incidents. Scientists and researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed a new flash x-ray system that can reveal how a projectile or weapon interacts with armor at the moment of impact.

The national security and public safety work performed at the labs has been recognized with a number of R&D 100 awards, the "Oscars of Innovation." Throughout the month of December, keep checking energy.gov as we feature the National Labs and their innovative work supporting U.S. national security and public safety. To learn more about the National Labs, visit energy.gov/labs.

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