Institute for Materials Discovery

Material science underpins the modern world, from smart phones to satellites, solar cells to dialysis, and is at the cutting edge of innovation in areas such as transport, health care, electric vehicles and renewable energy. The Institute for Materials Discovery (IMD), led by its founder and director Professor Kwang-Leong Choy is at the forefront of the design and development of new, sustainable materials to tackle pressing global challenges. It brings together leading experts from several disciplines, and links materials research at UCL which is scattered across departments including Chemistry, Engineering, Biology, Medicine, and Physics. 


Linking with Industry




The institute conducts research into materials for a wide range of applications, chief among which is developing low cost, sustainable renewable energy solutions. The institute has developed world leading non-vacuum Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) manufacturing processes for Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selinide and Copper-Zinc-Tin-Sulphur solar cells, achieving near record efficiency while dramatically lowering the cost of these devices.

Healthcare is another priority. Across the UK around 2 million people will undergo dialysis in their lifetime, yet this procedure has not fundamentally changed in 50 years, and outcomes for long term recipients remain bleak. The IMD, working with Japanese collaborators, the Royal Free Hospital and the UCL Centre for Nephrology is in the process of revolutionising this procedure. Conventional dialysis machines us hollow fibres to remove urea and excess liquid from the blood, however cannot remove protein bound toxins. Our aim is to use our patented coating technology to coat the hollow fibres with a toxin absorber, boosting waste removal rates, capturing key toxins and making dialysis cheaper and quicker.

Read more about this and much, much more on our research page.


Interested in studying Material Science? The MSc in Advanced Materials run by the IMD will train you in cutting edge materials discovery, manufacturing and characterisation. Delivered by world leading researchers, you will gain practical experience in working with materials for applications across healthcare, manufacturing, renewable energy, transport, optoelectronics and consumer products. The course is an ideal fit for students from a wide range of backgrounds, including Material Science, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Biology. Find out more here. The IMD also hosts a number of PhD students working on key issues across material science: in particular coatings for biomedical, structural and functional applications. For an idea of the type of projects available, see the profiles of our current PhD students here. For current vacancies, see our recruitment page. 


Part of the core vision of the Institute for Materials Discovery is to bring researchers together across disciplines, across industry and across academia to identify and address key challenges in material science. To this end, we work with over thirty companies across the globe, and collaborate closely with hospitals and leading academic groups worldwide. We are always looking for new partners, so whether you represent a company or you’re an academic researcher, get in touch to see how we can work together.


The institute is headed by Professor Kwang-Leong Choy, a leading visionary who during a career spanning 30 years has become the authority on low cost, environmentally friendly, non-vacuum Chemical Vapour Deposition. She literally wrote the book on this technology (six to be exact), along with over 250 research papers and reviews. Her work has led to over 20 patents, and formed two successful spin-out companies.

To find out more about other members of the team, see our people page.


The UCL Institute for Material Discovery (IMD) offers access to a wide range of cutting-edge scientific equipment and a dedicated cleanroom. IMD researchers are experts in modelling, design, fabrication and characterization of materials for a range of applications (specialty polymer, ceramic, glass, hybrid materials, composites, multifunctional materials, biomaterials). Whether you represent a company interested in using our world leading equipment or a prospective student, see our facilities page for more.


For general enquiries please send us an email at enquiries.materialsdiscovery@ucl.ac.uk