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. 

For 50+ years, MRL continues to foster interdisciplinary research at the forefront of materials science.

The age of materials is now.

“But today- as in the past
a laboratory can be many things and many places
It can be a stagnant pool
or the light of the sun, or the sun itself.”

“The lens is a simple tool
That extends the sense of sight into a realm of smaller things.
The microscope does much the same
but the jump to higher magnification is so spectacular-
It reveals another world-
as varied and complete as the one we see around us.”



  • 30+ resident faculty with labs
  • 70+ affiliated faculty from:
    • Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electircal and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, Aerospace Engineering
  • Open User Access 24/7
  • 140+ instruments 
  • more than $40M worth of tools
  • 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 2016 there were 1,054 active users with over 95,000 hours of instrument time.
  • Out of the 1,054 users, 55% were graduate students, 26% were senior researchers, and 19% were undergraduate students.