Research in materials science and engineering may focus on a discipline which could be a specific material or category of material (steel or magnetic materials, for example) or on a theme which could be an approach (such as computational science), a process (such as welding), or a principle common to many materials (corrosion, for example). Below is a list of some of the areas of research currently underway in MIT's DMSE.


Biomaterials interact with a biological system. Some materials scientists performing biomaterials research are working with medical researchers on implants, stents, or grafts; others are studying how natural materials work in order to mimic their self-assembly or structure. 

Biomolecular Materials

The Biomolecular Materials Group encourages simple organisms to grow and assemble technologically important materials and devices for energy, the environment, and medicine.  These hybrid organic-inorganic electronic and magnetic materials have been used in applications as varied as solar cells, batteries, medical diagnostics and basic single molecule interactions related to disease


Biophysics studies biological systems, starting at the molecular level, using the toolkit of a physical scientist.


Biotechnology utilizes living organisms and bioprocesses, often in manufacturing.


Some materials scientists are developing new systems of drug delivery to attack cancers, others are designing monitoring systems to track tumor growth and shrinkage, others have created new surgical instruments to remove tumors without harm to the surrounding body.


Ceramics are inorganic, nonmetallic solids processed or used at high temperatures.


Composites are two or more materials that take properties from both. 

Computational Materials Science

Computational Materials Science involves and enables the visualization of concepts and materials processes which are otherwise difficult to describe or even imagine. Among other things, this field of allows materials to be designed and tested efficiently.

Condensed Matter Physics

This is the study of physical properties of condensed phases of matter.

Corrosion and Environmental Effects

The H.H. Uhlig Lab investigates the causes of failure in materials and the prevention of failure in materials, with an emphasis on nuclear materials.

Economics of Materials

Research into the life cycle and impact of materials, from design to production to distribution to use to recycling or disposal.


Chemical reactions causing movement of electrons.

Electronic Materials

Energy research addresses creating and improving power supplies, working with alternative power sources, and improving materials processing and recycling.

Energy Storage

DMSE faculty are exploring many aspects of energy storage, including large-scale grid storage, solar cells, car batteries, and batteries for devices.


Study to use science and engineering to improve the environment and provide solutions to pollution and sanitation problems.

Fracture, Fatigue, and Failure of Materials

Experts in this area have direct knowledge of large-scale and small-scale materials and their reasons for mechanical failure. Their studies range from building collapse to consumer device breakdowns.


Use of materials for medical implants, such as knee and hip replacements, dental implants, and bone grafts.

Magnetic Materials
Material Culture

Material Culture is the study of the structure and properties of materials associated with human activity. Plant and animal food remains, human skeletal material, as well as metal, ceramic, stone, bone, and fiber artifacts are the objects of study, along with the environments within which these materials were produced and used.
MIT's Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology (CMRAE) is renowned for their work in this area.

Materials Chemistry
Materials Processing
Materials Systems and Analysis
Mechanical Behavior of Materials
MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)

One DMSE facility performing research in this area is the NanoMechanical Technology Lab (the NanoLab).


This research covers projects ranging from atomic-level manipulation (e.g., nanocrystals) to the micro-scale (e.g., MEMS devices). These new developments promise to enhance our way of life in areas such as communication, healthcare, and transportation, among others. DMSE is active in nanotechnology research.
MIT has announced a new facility dedicated to nanoscale research.

A DMSE facility performing research in this area is the NanoMechanical Technology Lab (the NanoLab).


Phase Transformations
Photonic Materials

Not just a synonym for "plastics." Polymer science examines the chemistry, physics, characterization, and applications of long-chain molecules or macromolecules. In materials science, polymers are often studied in connection with chemical engineering and biomaterials.

Self Assembly
Structural Materials
Surfaces, Interfaces, and Thin Films
Transport Phenomena

Creating materials that provide controlled release of vaccines or allow vaccines to target specific areas of the body

Course III alumni Coleman du Pont, Pierre du Pont, and Charles Hayden provided funding for Building 8 at the time of MIT’s move to Cambridge from Boston.