Materials Science

Sandia researchers Elena Starodub and Kevin McCarty around the Low Energy Electron Microscope used to study graphene growth.

Sandia's Materials Science Research Foundation works to understand materials across the atomic- to microscale continuum, design and process materials with required properties, and develop novel characterization techniques to further understanding and predictability. Visit our materials science and engineering website for more information.

Why our work matters

The nation depends on breakthrough materials science to meet critical future-security imperatives. New materials will be vital to providing new capabilities, meeting new systems requirements, and replacing obsolete or unavailable technologies. Materials processing provides the knowledge base to control the fabrication of critical materials. As systems change and age, the materials science discipline delivers answers regarding the chemical and physical mechanisms that underlie those changes.

Our unique value

  • Deep foundational knowledge in electronic and optical materials, thin films and coatings, nanostructured materials, ceramics synthesis and processing, and catalysis and reaction processes
  • Proven expertise in developing and applying innovative characterization and diagnostic techniques, as well as advanced computational methods
  • Collaboration across Sandia's science and engineering communities provides entrée into numerous corporate strengths such as high-performance computing, microsystems, chemical imaging, and modeling and simulation
  • World-class equipment and facilities:

Our approach

Materials structure and behavior


Quantify the relationships between materials' composition, structure, and morphology.


  • Explore, characterize, and understand the structure, composition, behavior, and functional properties of existing materials across atomic- to macroscopic-length scales
  • Quantify fundamentals such as reaction energetics, energy transfer mechanisms, and material movement in order to predict future properties such as composition, degradation, diffusion, dissolution, and transport in a wide variety of timescales and environmental conditions

New materials development


Explore, develop, and provide new materials with dramatically enhanced properties, functions, and behaviors to meet future requirements in critical systems.


  • Build on our legacy of pioneering semiconductor science to develop next-generation semiconductor and beyond-semiconductor materials as the basis for novel electronic and optoelectronic devices
  • Develop and exploit computational methods to obtain a deeper understanding of the physical principles and paradigms that govern growth, synthesis, and processing

Novel characterization and diagnostic tools and techniques


Invent and apply new diagnostic tools and techniques to determine materials structure, properties, and response relevant to lifecycle performance analysis.


  • Discover new understanding about how materials behave under the full range of relevant conditions