Queen Mary has a strong tradition of materials-based research. The creation of the Materials Research Institute (MRI) brings together a range of activities bridging across several Schools: Engineering and Materials, Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy, Biological and Chemical Sciences and Dentistry to create a coherent interdisciplinary research activity along the ‘Chain of Knowledge’, from materials synthesis, through processing, to products and devices.
Increasingly materials-based research has potential to feed into many areas that have been identified by governments worldwide as “grand challenges”. These include energy, digital economy, security, healthcare and environment. For many of these challenges the potential solutions rest with new materials development.
For example, in energy some of the key questions concern security of energy supply, reduction in the use of carbon-based fuels for large-scale energy supply, the need to develop mobile energy sources (batteries, hydrogen fuel storage) to reduce the reliance on internal combustion engines for transport, materials for next-generation nuclear energy, and materials to deal with the legacy of nuclear waste.
The core of the College’s materials research strategy over the last five years has been to enhance research excellence in key areas, develop new interdisciplinary research programmes, build new strategic alliances, strengthen links with industrial partners and appoint and nurture junior academics who will become future research leaders.
The objective of the Materials Research Institute is to further this research strategy by bringing together researchers from different disciplines to work together on projects from 'atoms to applications'. The MRI identifies five research themes in energy, lightweighting, sensors, opto-electronics and healthcare. The themes draw on academic expertise in chemistry, processing, characterisation and modelling, provides training programmes for researchers and builds on links with industrial partners.