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Nanomaterials present a new, disruptive advancement in electronics with their unique properties, and tantalize with visions of fast, compact electronics and sensitive optical detectors. As a world leader in defense and aerospace solutions, Lockheed Martin sees potential for the type of advanced electronics that nanomaterials promise across their solutions space, from advanced sensor systems enhancing situational awareness for the warfighter to high-density electronics for increased power in commercial satellites.

Lockheed Martin and Sandia National Laboratories have been collaborating for several years under Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) to harness the disruptive properties of nanomaterials, in particular those of carbon nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes and graphene. Within the family of nanomaterials, graphene is recognized as having exceptional potential.

Sandia is recognized as a world leader in nanotechnology, with unique capabilities in nanomaterials-based electronic and optoelectronic devices. The Labs’ expertise includes the ability to synthesize and process carbon nanomaterials, and to characterize their properties using a number of techniques.

Once the properties are understood, Sandia nanotechnologists use different approaches to assemble the nanomaterial into nanodevices. These devices are then tested for their electronic and optoelectronic properties, and theory and modeling are used to understand the fundamental mechanisms that govern their operation. It is this breadth of experimental approaches, combined with the unique integration of theory and modeling, that makes Sandia a strategic Lockheed Martin partner in nanotechnology.

Technology Advancement

While graphene has been touted as a carbon-based replacement for conventional materials, it lacks the electronic bandgap necessary to compete with silicon in semiconductor chips and transistors. In a recent collaboration, Lockheed Martin researchers with expertise in graphene synthesis and characterization have been working with Sandia to use nanoimprint lithography to pattern graphene to create nanometer features, which have been predicted to have the needed electronic bandgap.

The relationship between Sandia and Lockheed Martin is multi-faceted, providing value to both parties, as demonstrated by the broad portfolio of collaborative projects. Sandia offers world-class competencies from advanced materials and directed energy to microelectronics. Recent projects have drawn upon Sandia’s unique infrastructure and expertise in creating, developing, and prototyping monolithic radio frequency optical filters; and in epitaxial growth, characterization, and modeling of compound semiconductors.


As a technology partner, Lockheed Martin has turned to Sandia over many years for applied technology, unique expertise, or facilities that Lockheed Martin does not possess internally. In turn, through these partnerships, Sandia realizes a goal that is important to both Sandia and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): maturing and transitioning national laboratory technology. Sandia values these collaborations, as Lockheed Martin provides real-world application pull for Sandia’s technologies.

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Disruptive Carbon Nanomaterials Studied for Sensor Potential

Sandia National Laboratories |
Lockheed Martin (Bethesda MD)
Publication Date
May 1, 2012
Agreement Type
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)