About us

In 1963, amid life-changing scientific advances, researchers at the University of Illinois were inspired to create the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL). The MRL’s main investors at the Advanced Research Projects Agency and the United States Atomic Energy Commission had great interest in seeing a speedy completion to the building, which would ultimately give professors and students the space and resources to advance their own scientific achievements.

The Materials Research Laboratory is committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all. We thrive on the diversity of our community and its ideas as much as on that of our research and services. We believe that only in a safe, equitable, welcoming, inclusive, and diverse environment can we reach our full potential as a center of excellence for education, research, and discovery.

In this mission, we are striving to learn and make progress towards a more inclusive community.

Today, the MRL hosts over 220 instruments valued at over $50 million and continues to foster interdisciplinary research at the forefront of materials science.



Open user access


Worth of tools




Affiliated faculty from across the university


MRL’s external academic researchers exceed 100 scientists from 50 institutions around the world.

MRL’s external industrial researchers are fifty scientists from thirty institutions around the world.

In FY 2023 there were 1,040 active users with over 84,000 hours of instrument time. Out of the 1,040 users, 69% were graduate students, 20% were senior researchers, and 11% were undergraduate students.

Machine Shop

The Physics MRL Machine Shop is well-equipped for making special, one-of-a-kind research equipment to order.

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Our storeroom carries a variety of components and fittings.

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IT Support

Technical services for faculty, students and research groups.

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