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Research at MIT

MIT's commitment to marrying education with the creation of knowledge provides a fertile setting for research that has spawned a host of scientific breakthroughs and technological advances. Past achievements include the creation of modern food preservation processes, the first chemical synthesis of penicillin and vitamin A, the development of inertial guidance systems, modern technologies for artificial limbs, high-speed photography, and the magnetic core memory that made possible the development of digital computers.

Research Expenditures by Primary Sponsor for Fiscal Year 2009 (figures in millions)
Total: $718.2 million

Research sponsorship pie chart


More recently, researchers at MIT have created a new type of matter—a gas of atoms that shows high-temperature fluidity; developed a semi-conductor polymer that can detect the presence of TNT vapor even at the concentration of parts per billion; are developing a process that will eliminate all liquid from solid-state batteries, doubling or tripling their capacity; and have harnessed the construction talents of tiny viruses to build "nanowire" structures for use in very thin lithium-ion batteries, with a goal of building a battery the size of a grain of rice.

In addition to breaking new ground in the convergence of engineering and the life sciences, MIT launched the MIT Energy Initiative in 2006. This comprehensive Institute-wide effort pairs MIT’s world-class research teams with key players across the innovation spectrum. MITEI has attracted sponsored research and other support totaling more than $250 million, funded over 49 seed-fund research projects, and created the Society of Energy fellowship, which has included 80 energy graduate students from 2008 to 2010.

During the academic year, approximately 3,100 researchers (including 634 visiting faculty and scientists) work with MIT faculty and students on projects funded by government, foundations, and industry. Approximately 2,400 graduate students are appointed as research assistants and 590 are appointed as teaching assistants; 1,600 are supported on fellowships. MIT has one of the most respected technology transfer programs in the country. In each of the past five years its Technology Licensing Office has signed approximately 100 option and license agreements, of which 20 to 25 each year were to startup companies formed to exploit the technology.

Interdisciplinary Centers, Labs, and Programs

Advances in knowledge, together with an awareness of the complexity of today's world, have led researchers to tackle complex problems that cannot be resolved from the vantage point of a single academic discipline. MIT's interdisciplinary centers, labs, and programs operate out of this awareness.

Center for Advanced Visual Studies
Center for Archaeological Materials
Center for Biomedical Engineering
Center for Biomedical Innovation
Center for Collective Intelligence
Center for Computational Research and Management Science
Center for Educational Computing Initiatives
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research
Center for Environmental Health Sciences
Center for Global Change Science
Center for International Studies
Center for Materials Science and Engineering
Center for Real Estate
Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development
Center for Transportation and Logistics
Clinical Research Center
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
Division of Comparative Medicine
Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory
Haystack Observatory
Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies
Institute for Work and Employment Research
Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Knight Science Journalism Fellows Program
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Laboratory for Financial Engineering
Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems
Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity
Laboratory for Nuclear Science
Lean Advancement Initiative
Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship
Lincoln Laboratory
Materials Processing Center
McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Media Laboratory
Microsystems Technology Laboratories
Middle East Program at MIT
MIT Center for Digital Business
MIT Energy Initiative
MIT Entrepreneurship Center
MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
MIT Professional Education
MIT–Portugal Program
Nuclear Reactor Laboratory
Operations Research Center
Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Productivity from Information Technology Initiative
Research Laboratory of Electronics
Sea Grant College Program
Singapore–MIT Alliance
Spectroscopy Laboratory
System Dynamics Group
Technology and Development Program
Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology
Women's and Gender Studies Program