Laboratory Directed R&D

Multiple electric lines are shown in front of a sunset


A snowy horizon with a research base sits in the Arctic where permafrost research is happening.


A researcher with safety goggles and a mask inspects a dropper of fluid


Sandia researchers gather in the fog chamber to do an experiment utilizing scattered light


High-risk, potentially high-payoff science and engineering research is at the heart of Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development (LDRD) program. This program provides the flexibility needed to anticipate and respond quickly to future mission needs and to explore potentially revolutionary advances.

LDRD funding is awarded annually through a rigorous and highly competitive peer-review process focused on the forward-looking needs articulated by Sandia’s five mission areas, eight research areas, and assorted strategic initiatives.

The LDRD program serves as a tremendous recruitment tool because it provides individuals at Sandia with the ability to use leading-edge facilities in creative, potentially transformational research. Some of the nation’s most exciting innovations have roots in LDRD research.

Recent Highlights

Project Description Current Energy Earth System Models (ESM) representation of soil organic matter (SOM) and its...

Experimental war gaming provides insightful data for real-world cyberattacks In Greek mythology, Tantalus was the king...

The major challenge with using algae as a feedstock is growing it economically, which hinges strongly...

Brittle material failure can appear random and unpredictable at subcritical stresses. A fundamental understanding of how...

As counterfeiting methods become more sophisticated, countermeasures must be developed at the same pace. In this...

The development of equations-of-state and transport models in areas such as shock compression and fusion energy...

Predictive design of experiments in Radiation, Electrical, and High Energy Density Science (REHEDS) requires knowledge of...

Chalcogenide thin films that undergo reversible phase changes show promise for next-generation nanophotonics, metasurfaces, and other...

Atmospheric corrosion is a critical materials degradation problem, yet the ability to predict its kinetics remains...

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a very hard, mechanically stable wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor that permits devices to...

Subcritical fracture controls deformation and permeability of rocks and degradation of manmade materials. To further understand...

Novel material and device concepts previously took years for iteration. Discoveries in this LDRD project will...

LDRD Research Areas

  • Biological Science
  • Earth, Energy & Environmental Science
  • Engineering Science
  • Materials & Advanced Manufacturing
  • Mathematics, Computing & Information Science
  • Nanodevices and Microsystems
  • Physical Science
  • Radiation Effects & High Energy Physics

Mission Campaigns

Mission Campaigns are transient, strategically focused and emphasize well-developed roadmaps and R&D priorities that seek to address identified needs that position Sandia to solve future national security mission challenges.

Current Mission Campaigns

Grand Challenges

Sandia’s Grand Challenge LDRD projects represent Sandia’s largest individual investments in discretionary R&D. They are ambitious, seek transformational outcomes that are inspired by critical national security problems, and perform high risk/high reward research that will greatly enhance or enable Sandia’s missions. Grand Challenge teams are drawn from across the labs to work on a common set of milestones and deliverables and often include external collaborators.

Current Grand Challenges

  • Computational Approaches for Predicting Shared Interactions of Infectious Diseases (CAPSIID)
  • Beyond Fingerprinting: AI-guided Discovery of Resilient Materials and Processes
  • CLDERA: Climate Impact, Dynamically Traced Attribution
  • TPS: Thermal Protection System
  • RAD-EDGE: Radiation-hardened processing systems

Featured Publications

Research highlights from FY22
Research highlights from FY21
Research highlights from FY20
Research highlights from FY19