Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)


FLC Region

Security Lab



P.O Box 5800
MS 1495
Albuquerque, NM 87185-1495
United States

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Laboratory Representative


Organized and built as a result of atomic research that began in New Mexico in 1942, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has undergone many changes, especially in the types of scientific research and engineering programs carried out at the facilities. Sandia's primary mission remains ensuring that the nation has a reliable nuclear deterrent, but over the years other programs of a complementary nature or of particular national interest have been added. Almost from its inception, SNL has engaged in some type of technology transfer. Because Sandia's primary role for the DoE has been converting laboratory prototypes into usable products, the laboratory has been particularly effective over the past 30 years in sharing inventions, ideas and engineering know-how with private industry. Sandia's transferred technologies have become successful commercial products, accounting for thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in worldwide sales. With the emergence of a new threat to our national security--the declining competitiveness of key US industries in world markets--transferring technology from the national laboratories to the private sector has taken on important new dimensions. Like other DoE laboratories, Sandia has developed a broader, more aggressive technology transfer program to meet this new responsibility.


Sandia National Laboratories enhances the security, prosperity and well-being of the nation by responding to the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly dynamic and demanding world with broad-based research and development programs that create solutions contributing to military security, energy security, environmental integrity and economic competitiveness. Our longest standing program (within the military security mission area) is implementation of the nation's nuclear weapon policies through research, development and testing in nuclear ordinance, arms control and weapon surety. As a multiprogram laboratory, we also serve the nation through a variety of programs that directly contribute to both national energy security and environmental integrity. By working through partnerships with industry and academia based on road maps generated by industry, Sandia is able to assist in the development of multiple national infrastructures (such as manufacturing, information and transportation systems, and cost-effective health care technologies) that are critical to our mission of economic security and that also are day to the objectives of programs within the other mission areas. In this context Sandia technologies and contributions exhibit a dual-use character.

Technology Disciplines

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Bacteriophage Host-Range Expansion
Cast Thermal Battery Components using a Salt Binder
Cast Thermal Battery Components using a Salt Binder
Cast Thermal Battery Components using a Salt Binder
Cast Thermal Battery Components using a Salt Binder
CHIRP: Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform
CHIRP: Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform
CHIRP: Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform
Coinage Metal Nanoparticles for Nanoinks
Coinage Metal Nanoparticles for Nanoinks


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Advanced Power Sources Laboratory
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research (ARM)
Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) - Core Facility
Combustion Research Facility
Design, Evaluation and Test Technology Facility
Design, Evaluation, and Test Technology Facility
Distributed Energy Technology Laboratory
Engineering Sciences Experimental Facilities (ESEF)
Engineering Sciences Experimental Facility
Explosive Components Facility



No Equipment


No Programs


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Sandia - CRADAs

CRADAs - An overview for industry partners
Lab Representatives

Parachute Technology Airbag

In 1992, Sandia’s parachute development engineers partnered with Precision Fabrics Group, a leading manufacturer of military parachute material, to develop a new airbag with more than 60% reduced weight and volume compared to those used in passenger vehicles at the time. This technology entered the market just ahead of new regulations requiring all automobiles sold in the U.S. to have both driver and front-seat passenger airbags beginning in 1997.

Sandia and Precision Fabrics Group partnered via Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to rethink basic airbag design and create a more efficient and cost-effective product to meet the automotive industry’s needs. Key to this development was the use of a high-performance material, originally for military use, that surpassed the material used in airbags at the time. The Precision Technology Airbag was developed using lightweight, woven nylon material that was formerly used in military parachutes to ensure accurate delivery of nuclear weapons when dropped from supersonic aircraft. It was small enough to fit into a man’s shirt pocket when folded, but offered the same level of protection as conventional designs. Because less energy is required to inflate the lighter weight material, the airbag inflated faster than others on the market, deploying in approximately 19 to 24 milliseconds on the driver’s side compared to 25 to 30 milliseconds for a conventional airbag. Additionally, the smooth material reduced abrasions and burns that can occur in an accident when an inflating airbag encounters skin.

In addition to the airbag being easier to manufacture, its reduced size and weight were instrumental in enabling the installation of more airbags in vehicles. The technology gave automobile manufacturers the ability to include airbags in door panels to protect against side impacts, and, for the first time, to offer protection to rear passengers. Further, Sandia applied the expertise in fabric structures analysis used in the development of this airbag to later projects, including the construction, testing, and analysis of an airbag for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars Environmental Survey Lander

CaptSandia researcher Kenneth Gwinn displays a prototype of the compact, lighter
airbag developed by Sandia and Precision Fabrics Group.ion

Advanced Nanomaterials for Energy Conservation and Temperature Regulation

Sandia National Laboratories’ original goal was to develop a self-resetting circuit breaker using vanadium dioxide. But through the creativity of a Sandia scientist and a businessman, Sandia technology has been transferred to the private sector and is poised to make a difference in the marketplace reducing energy needs for consumers in the U.S.

Sandia Physicist Paul Clem met a businessman with a company specializing in aerogel windows. William Kurtz told Clem that although they are great in the winter, aerogel windows get too hot in the summer. Clem thought he could adapt his thermochromic thin film material to solve this problem.

Sandia began working with IR Dynamics on developing the nanoparticles into a low cost, thermally dynamic technology that will be incorporated into a variety of products for smart regulation of solar heat. The team has developed nanoparticles that have tunable optical properties triggered by the environment: these nanomaterials transition to let the heat through when it’s cold outside and reflect heat when it’s warm. At cooler temperatures, this material is a clear insulator, but when it is hotter it becomes a metal that reflects infrared (IR) radiation while still transmitting visible light.

To transfer the technology from Sandia to IR Dynamics and the marketplace, a variety of mechanisms have been utilized. A $1.7M funds-in CRADA was used to develop thermochromic materials for control of IR transmission. The CRADA enables joint R&D as well as addressing new intellectual property developed during scale-up. Development of these thermochromic materials will suit environmentally-mediated applications including incorporating the nanoparticles into new windows, adding them to architectural plastics like those used in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Water Cube, or high-performance athletic clothing. Many manufacturers are interested in IR Dynamic’s technologies because of their potential to satisfy increasing demand for energy efficiency and personal climate control.

CRADA Outcome

Learning about the Sandia thermochromic technology led to Kurtz starting a new company, IR Dynamics, to develop and market Sandia’s dynamic thermochromic materials. The first product IR Dynamics is developing is an easy-to-use film homeowners can apply to existing windows to reduce their heating and cooling bills, which Kurtz hopes to have on the market by late 2018.

After working together under two New Mexico Small Business Assistance projects to test the feasibility of creating products based on the thermally dynamic materials, work continues under the $1.7M CRADA and $1.95 million DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) grant. The external funding from the funds-in CRADA has, in turn, enabled Sandia development of other tunable optical material properties that meet Sandia’s enduring mission areas of integrated, adaptive optics and remote sensing. More sensitive physical sensors and new microfabricated optical structures are among the offshoot Sandia technologies, patents, and publications enabled by the partnership with IR Dynamics.

IR Dynamics is now licensing two technologies from Sandia. The company also has a User Facility Agreement with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), which has led to three publications.

Research conducted during the NMSBA projects created the new joint intellectual property which gave the company the confidence to seek $2 million in A-round funding, IR Dynamics has also recently built out new offices and laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, and has hired six new employees. A B-round of funding is planned at the close of the ARPA-E grant period to scale up the manufacturing technology.

Madico, one of the largest providers of window films worldwide, is working with IR Dynamics to develop window film products and laminated ETFE structural film (an architectural membrane). The company also has a joint development agreement with HeiQ, a fabric finishing company that provides modified performance materials to major apparel brands.

Neonatal sepsis—a bacterial infection in the blood—is one of the leading causes of death in newborns. It takes 24-48 hours to get results from current test methods, and a high volume of blood must be drawn—a challenge when dealing with an infant. Routine screening for sepsis may soon be much faster and easier with a point-of-care diagnostic tool being developed by Sandstone Diagnostics. The company is using Sandia National Laboratories’ SpinDx™ platform as the basis for an instrument that can diagnose the condition in about 15 minutes, with just a drop of blood.

Sandstone Diagnostics was founded by former Sandia National Laboratories employees and SpinDx inventors Greg Sommer and Ulrich Schaff, who are licensing the technology. Benefiting from two separate NIH grants totaling $300,000, Sandstone Diagnostics is advancing the company’s long-term goal to manufacture and sell instruments and disposable test kits for different medical testing applications based on SpinDx technology. Sandstone is also developing an over-the-counter male fertility test kit that would allow for semen analysis at home. Additionally, Sommer and Schaff are working with researchers at Stanford University to look at blood-based biomarkers for earlier detection of sepsis proteins and cell markers under a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.

SpinDx was originally developed for biodefense, with funding from a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project and the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD). SpinDx is a lab-on-a-disk that uses 4-inch plastic CD-like disks with etched microfluidic channels containing beads designed for specific assays. Test samples placed on the disks are spun in a “reader” device. SpinDx combines bead-based assays with sedimentation to separate the beads, differentiating it from other centrifugal devices.

SpinDx has both medical and non-medical applications, ranging from detection of markers of infectious diseases to food and water safety testing. It can quickly complete a variety of lab screening tests and be used by people with minimal scientific training in a lab or in the field. Results are available in minutes. A new test can be run as soon as a different disk is inserted, making it highly versatile.

In addition, the technology has been licensed by several companies that are developing its use for point-of-care diagnostics testing, water pathogen testing, and other applications.

Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology (ESTT)

ESTT allows Sandia to transfer technology to the private sector by permitting Sandia employees to leave the Labs to start up new technology companies or help expand existing companies. Entrepreneurs are guaranteed reinstatement by Sandia if they choose to return to the Labs. Greg Sommer left the Labs and

Department of Energy | May 2015

U.S. Department of Energy | IX.Appendix E – National Laboratory Success Stories 95

co-founded Sandstone Diagnostics in 2012 to manufacture and sell instruments and disposable test kits for medical testing applications based on Sandia’s SpinDx technology, which Sommer helped invent.

Cummins, a global manufacturer and distributor of diesel and natural gas engines, achieved a 10 percent reduction in the time and cost of designing a more robust, fuel-efficient, and clean-burning engine through the innovative work of a public-private partnership supported by the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The improvements were achieved by using computer modeling and simulation instead of the traditional build-and-test method. The multi-institution collaboration involved industry, universities, and National Laboratories with leadership provided by Sandia National Laboratories’ Combustion Research Facility (CRF) and funding largely provided by the Department of Energy.

Cummins’ ISB 6.7 liter diesel engine, first introduced in 2007, was designed entirely by computer modeling and simulation. The engine now powers more than 200,000 Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickup trucks. Today, most U.S. engines are designed using computer modeling and simulation—a change that is helping U.S. industry cut years off of product development cycles and bringing the nation closer to its goal of reducing petroleum usage for transportation by 17 percent by 2020.

Sandia’s Engine Combustion Research Program provided Cummins a completely new and authoritative understanding of the complex physical and chemical processes that drive diesel combustion. This research effort rested on more than 15 years of CRF investigation into the complex and fundamental phenomena of ignition. This fundamental understanding— achieved through the application of Sandia-developed laser diagnostics in the CRF’s optical engine facilities—was vital to developing the computational tools used by Cummins. Other key contributors to Cummins’ successes include:

  • Los Alamos National Laboratory provided the numerical framework for the engine combustion models
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provided chemical kinetic models for combustion and emissions
  • The University of Wisconsin and University of Michigan helped develop many of the sub-models for diesel combustion

Combustion Research Facility (CRF)

As a DOE Office of Science collaborative research facility, a key aspect of the CRF’s mission is to encourage the direct involvement of individuals, or “collaborators,” from the scientific community. The CRF also works with industrial partners on precompetitive projects that are shared with the community and on proprietary projects that are wholly owned by the sponsor. The CRF has been working closely with U.S. engine manufacturers for more than 30 years to increase scientific understanding of internal combustion engine processes affecting efficiency and emissions.

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) radar can make detailed, high resolution, photograph-like images of the ground from an aircraft, night or day, even in foggy, cloudy, or hazy conditions. The U.S. Air Force and other branches of the military use GA-ASI’s Lynx® Multi-mode Radar systems. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection also operates a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), most of which are equipped with Lynx systems.

Sandia National Laboratories and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of privately held General Atomics, are working together to deploy SAR systems for the U.S. military and other customers. This partnership has resulted in immeasurable benefits to our warfighters, created jobs for the U.S., and spurred other technical advancements through an ongoing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

General Atomics began marketing and producing the Lynx radar in 1999, and since then numerous improvements and new features have been implemented. Today, the radars are built by the GA-ASI Reconnaissance Systems Group. Radar engineering, production, and business activities support nearly 700 employees in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., and at several other sites.

Through the CRADA, Sandia continues to support GA-ASI with development of new modes, features, and enhancements for existing radar systems. In addition, Sandia assists with development testing and validation. The technological advances resulting from the creation of enhanced features and new products at GA-ASI flow back to Sandia, benefitting other Sandia partners.

In 2012 Sandia and GA-ASI assisted with a successful demonstration of additional features of the Maritime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode of the Lynx Radar. During Navy exercises off the coast of Southern California, the system showed the ability to support anti-piracy and counter-narcotics missions by detecting hard-to-find targets and relaying their imagery with metadata back to Navy commanders for dissemination and action.

The long-term relationship between Sandia and GA-ASI benefits both partners. Sandia’s expertise and intellectual property enhances GA-ASI’s position as a world leader in radar systems. Sandia gains financial support through the CRADA, which funds research and development efforts, and its engineers gain valuable real-world information and can share research discoveries through publication



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