Los Alamos knows bombs

Instructors discuss aluminum-based explosives as part of an advanced course on threats from homemade bombs. The course was created by the Los Alamos Collaboration for Explosives Detection, which is  offering its expertise via a new Web portal.

Researchers at one of the national laboratories that oversaw development of some of the most powerful bombs ever are offering their expertise to help defeat explosive threats.

Program managers at Los Alamos National Laboratory said the Los Alamos Collaboration for Explosives Detection (LACED) portal is aimed at building collaboration between public and private partners to enhance the detection of explosives.

The LACED site is a virtual gateway to expertise and capabilities for countering all types of explosives, predominantly through enhanced detection capabilities, according to the lab. The site, which went public in January, provides expertise in sometimes extremely specialized fields.

Los Alamos has a deep bench of explosives experts. Along with Lawrence Livermore National Lab, it has been conducting classified design work for nuclear weapons since 1952. Los Alamos' experts include physicists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians, and computational, biological, materials and geological scientists.

Program managers for LACED said that given the lab's long experience, its researchers can anticipate explosives' effects and minimize their impact.

Lab officials said the collaborative project is made up of 57 experts who span 18 technical divisions at Los Alamos and 11 fields of expertise, and they have produced more than 100 publications related to the detection of explosives.

The LACED portal offers specific information on nearly anything that can explode. For example, it seeks to raise awareness of homemade explosives and provide detailed training on improvised explosive device safety. The portal also provides access to detection technologies, advanced image analysis, surveillance tools, remote detection and spectroscopy to find trace quantities of explosive vapors and residues.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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