Research at MIT
The soul of MIT is research. For more than 150 years, the Institute has married teaching with engineering and scientific studies—and produced an unending stream of advancements, many of them world changing. Examples of some of MIT’s historical achievements follow:
Pioneering high-speed photography
Engineering practical microwave radar
Building the magnetic core memory that made digital computers possible
Developing the inertial guidance systems for the Apollo space program
Inventing the first workable public key cryptographic system
Discovering the smallest known, most abundant photosynthetic bacteria in the ocean
Using new genetic and multiple-cell monitoring technologies to demonstrate how animals form memory about new environments
Creating a new type of matter, a gas of atoms that shows high-temperature superfluidity
Making the first direct detection of gravitational waves reaching the Earth (in collaboration with Caltech and others around the world), confirming Albert Einstein’s prediction from a century ago
Selected accomplishments from the 10 years
- Developing a new steelmaking process that produces no emissions other than pure oxygen
- Adapting a CRISPR protein that targets RNA, rather than DNA, for use as a rapid, inexpensive, highly sensitive diagnostic tool with the potential to transform research and global public health
- Developing with scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital a way to power and communicate with devices implanted within the human body. The implants are the size of a grain of rice, have no batteries, and are powered by radio frequency waves.
- Capturing the first direct image of a black hole as part of an international team of over 200 scientists
- Ramping up a high-temperature superconducting electromagnet to a field strength of 20 tesla, the most powerful magnetic field of its kind ever created on Earth
- Reliably producing oxygen on the surface of Mars using an instrument the size of a lunchbox that can do the work of a small tree
- 27 companies formed using MIT intellectual property
- 696 invention disclosures (including 111 from Lincoln Laboratory)
- 311 new US patents filed
- 354 US patents issued
Undergraduates can plunge directly into this world of exploration through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, which offers students a chance to collaborate with Institute faculty on cutting-edge research.
During fall 2022, approximately 5,370 researchers (including 1,430 postdoctoral scholars and 430 visiting faculty and scientists) worked with MIT faculty and students.
As an institution, MIT encourages interdisciplinary research across department and school boundaries while focusing on tackling societal challenges. More interdisciplinary teams are found off-campus in nearby Lexington, Massachusetts, at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center focused on national security.
Research Expenditures, by Primary Sponsor, Fiscal Year 2022
|Department of Health and Human Services||$145.59||19%|
|Department of Defense||$131.29||17%|
|Foundations and other nonprofits||$93.86||12%|
|National Science Foundation||$87.35||11%|
|Department of Energy||$82.12||10%|
|State, local, and foreign governments||$24.85||3%|
|All other federal agencies||$16.67||2%|