What is Trinitite? 

Trinitite is an extraordinary mineral with a fascinating origin. It was born in the crucible of the Trinity test, an event that marked the successful detonation of the world's first nuclear bomb. The test was a part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, led by scientist Robert Oppenheimer, which aimed to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.

As the bomb exploded, the intense heat and energy vaporized the bomb itself and the steel tower that held it. The blast fused the surrounding desert sand, turning it into a glassy, greenish mineral with occasional patches of red. The green hue is attributed to the presence of iron from the steel tower, while the red patches likely result from copper wiring in the bomb.

The Trinity bomb code named “gadget”

Initially overlooked by the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, trinitite gained popularity as a unique souvenir for collectors who visited the Trinity test site after the information about the nuclear explosion became public knowledge. However, as the understanding of radioactive contamination grew, the US government decided to remove and bury most of the trinitite in the early 1950s, and collecting it from the site became illegal.

Despite its radioactivity at the time of the test, trinitite has significantly decreased in radioactivity over the years. Pre-ban samples like the one used in this project are considered safe to handle today, but collecting from the site remains illegal due to concerns about nuclear test site security.

Trinitite has radioactivity slightly above background.

Constructing the display:

1. Assemble the 3D printed Trinity bomb model by gluing its three parts together. 

Trinity bomb 3d print
Gluing sections together

2. Paint the model, referencing images of Trinity replicas in museums.

Painting the Trinity bomb

Replica of Trinity bomb with paint job

3. Print and paint the small pieces that the wires connected to, and glue them on the model.

Glueing on small pieces

4. Add over 50 wires to the outside of the model for authenticity.

Adding t0 small wires

Making copper stand
Attaching heat shrink tubing with a heat gun

6. Adjust the copper rod's shape so it firmly holds the trinitite specimen in place.

Trinitie mounted

7. Display the trinitite on the Trinity bomb model, showcasing this unique piece of history.

Final setup with Trinitie mounted


Trinitite is a reminder of the transformative moment when nuclear technology was unleashed upon the world. By crafting a display that features the Trinity bomb and trinitite, this project highlights the historical significance of the Manhattan Project and the first atomic explosion. The distinct features of trinitite make it a remarkable mineral, capturing the essence of that specific moment in time.