Laboratory Directed R&D

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

The team, led by Sandia principal investigator Jessica Rimsza, developed...

This fiber-coupled imaging capability will be valuable to many programs...

The center section of Sandia's Z Machine Low density plasmas...

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

  • Light Speed: Accelerating Fundamental Predictions of Explosive Optical Emissions
  • 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