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Laboratory Directed Research & Development

National security depends on science and technology. The United States relies on Los Alamos National Laboratory for the best of both. No place on Earth pursues a broader array of world-class scientific endeavors.

Gang Wu, left, and Piotr Zelenay examine a new non-precious-metal catalyst that can significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells while maintaining performance.

Gang Wu, left, and Piotr Zelenay examine a new non-precious-metal catalyst that can significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells while maintaining performance.

Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program (LDRD)

Go to Tri-Lab LDRD website »

Charlie McMillan, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Director McMillan on research and development

America is currently facing energy, security, and environmental challenges that, in their scope and complexity, are perhaps unparalleled in the nation’s history. The national laboratories are charged with providing scientific breakthroughs needed to develop long-term solutions to those challenges.

In 1992, Congress authorized Los Alamos and the other national laboratories to initiate the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. The program was set up to foster a research environment conducive to scientific innovation and provide critical financial support necessary to execute world-class science and engineering.

Investing in Science and Technology

The LDRD program is a prestigious source of research and development (R&D) funding awarded through a rigorous and highly competitive peer-review process.

As the sole source of discretionary R&D funding at the Laboratory, LDRD resources are carefully invested in high-risk, potentially high-payoff activities that build technical capabilities and explore ways to meet future mission needs.

As a result, many of the Laboratory’s most exciting innovations—from energy security to large-scale infrastructure modeling and from actinide science to nuclear nonproliferation and detection—can be traced to LDRD investment.

Return on Investment

Funded with approximately 6 percent of the Laboratory’s budget, the LDRD program yields an exceptional return on a relatively small investment. The technical output of LDRD researchers—patent disclosures, peer-reviewed publications, and publications cited by other authors—typically accounts for fully one-quarter of the Laboratory’s total.

More important, LDRD gives the Laboratory the means to recruit and retain the finest scientific talent. The program traditionally supports more than half of the postdocs at the Laboratory and more than half of the conversions from postdoc to regular full-time staff member.

It is the role of the national laboratories, and especially the national security laboratories, to advance the science that will form the foundation of tomorrow’s technology. Through our robust LDRD program, Los Alamos will be able to sustain the scientific workforce required to meet the nation’s long-term national security science needs.

Summaries of LDRD projects that were active in FY11 are available in the LDRD Annual Progress Report (pdf).


Innovations for a secure nation

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

The Argus II will help people blinded by the rare hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa or seniors suffering from severe macular degeneration.

» All Innovations

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