Site-Directed Research & Development

Started in 2002 by Congressional authorization, the SDRD Program is an essential element of the Nevada National Security Site technical enterprise. The SDRD program is our premier science and technology venue and primary source for discovery and innovation for NSTec’s national security missions. Similar to the laboratory-directed R&D (LDRD) programs at the NNSA national security laboratories and production plants, SDRD enhances the technical vitality of the NNSS by addressing the following core areas:

(1) Developing and demonstrating innovative ideas and technologies to advance new solutions to national & global security needs

(2) Enhancement of core competencies required for current and emerging technical missions 

(3) Retention and recruitment of individuals with critical skills 

Proposals are solicited every year and about two dozen projects are funded annually and are tied to principal thrust areas described here. An annual report is released each April for the previous year’s projects.


Innovation for the Nation

Materials Studies & Techniques

Dynamic material studies include understanding the nature of materials in extreme, transient conditions. This includes the physics of shocked metals, generating new ideas for diagnosing phase, understanding dynamic temperature, and the physics associated with high stress and strain rates, to name a few. Areas of research include development of new diagnostics for equation-of-state measurements; meeting the diagnostic needs of gun facilities; and expanded use and/or knowledge of pyrometry, x-ray diffraction, and other techniques. ​​

Instruments, Detectors and Sensors

The development of instruments, detectors, and sensors has  always been a prominent part of SDRD research. This topic area  explores a wide range of applications, including, but not limited to advanced radiation sensors; dual neutron-gamma detectors; handheld detectors; and investigation of unique materials, such as uranium oxides, for solid-state neutron detectors. Another major area of exploration is designing electronic components and instruments for improved collection of velocimetry and other data. The multiplexed photonic Doppler velocimetry (MPDV) system, which received a 2012 R&D100 award, began as an SDRD project in FY 2010.


Computational and Information Sciences

The vast amount of data now available in x-ray and radiographic imaging applications and in velocimetry measurements is driving a new effort to facilitate quantitative analysis of these data sets. Researchers in this area have focused on developing more credible methods to determine uncertainties in deconvolution, Abel inversion and x-ray spot reconstruction of radiographic image data, as one example. New methods are being developed to analyze and interpret large data sets generated by PDV and MPDV. Two other important areas under this R&D topic are development of SCADA security devices and secure communications. 


The NNSS perpetuates a legacy of deep experience and technical excellence at the cutting edge of high-speed optical diagnostics, stretching from “Doc” Edgerton’s earliest ​photography, through contemporary high-bandwidth velocimetry techniques. Photonics projects focus on topics ranging from leveraging more developed methodologies into novel diagnostic technologies to expanding applications of ultrafast detection. For example, one FY 2013 project combined ultrafast laser physics, state-of-the-art 3-D cameras, and an innovative hyperspectral lens to attempt high-frame-number imaging with variable recording times pushing into the THz regime.

​For more information on the SDRD program, contact:

Howard Bender, SDRD Program Manager​, (505) 663-2049

Annual Reports