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Imperial College London is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world for science and technology. At its heart, Imperial is a science, technology, engineering and medicine university with a focus on research that makes real-world impact. The university has eight faculty-level research institutes that bring together academics and researchers from across different departments to work on multidisciplinary problems.

The Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) focuses on driving innovation to transform healthcare globally. It has major research strengths in digital health technologies, antimicrobial resistance, diagnostics and vaccine development. IGHI aims to ensure healthcare innovation addresses global health challenges and is accessible for people everywhere. Some notable research includes the development of a universal flu vaccine and rapid diagnostic tests for infectious diseases.

The Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBE) researches how engineering interfaces with biology and medicine. It has five research departments spanning biomechanics, biomaterials, medical imaging, nanomedicine and therapeutics. IBE researchers develop new techniques, devices and therapies. For instance, they are creating non-invasive brain stimulation devices to treat conditions like depression and designing smart polymer scaffolds to regenerate tissue.

The Institute of Chemical Biology focuses on interdisciplinary research at the interface of chemistry and biology. Its researchers work on understanding biological systems at the molecular level and applying chemical tools to probe and manipulate biological function. Example projects include developing new tools for chemical genetics, studying bacterial communication networks and designing peptide therapeutics.

The Institute of Clinical Sciences aims to advance clinical research and its application within healthcare. Key areas include cardiovascular and respiratory medicine, cancer, infection, inflammation and immunity. The institute facilitates clinical trials and works to translate basic science into new diagnostics, prevention strategies and treatments for patients.

The Institute of Environment, Health and Societies examines the links between environment, society and human health. It carries out research on sustainability and climate change, environmental pollution and toxicology, environmental epidemiology and global environmental health. Studies may explore issues like the health effects of air pollution, impacts of societal inequalities on wellbeing and developing clean energy solutions.

The Institute of Materials aims to advance materials science for applications including energy, transportation, healthcare and digital technologies. Interdisciplinary teams work on designing new materials like memristors for brain-inspired computing, energy storage materials for renewable technologies and smart biomaterials for regenerative medicine. State-of-the-art research facilities allow exploration of materials at all length scales.

The Institute of Security Science Technology addresses challenges at the intersection of security, technology and society. Researchers develop new tools and methods for issues like cybersecurity, cryptocurrency tracing, transportation security, urban resilience and crisis management. Projects could involve blockchain forensics, AI for infrastructure protection or data-driven approaches to counterterrorism.

The Institute of Digital Healthcare focuses on harnessing digital technologies to transform healthcare delivery and outcomes. Researchers are creating artificial intelligence solutions for areas like disease diagnosis, drug discovery and personalised cancer treatment. Other initiatives develop digital tools to support remote patient monitoring, simulate disease progression and improve vaccine distribution globally.

Overall, Imperial’s strength in research across science, technology, engineering and medicine allows its institutes to take multidisciplinary approaches to major global challenges. Cutting-edge facilities and collaborations with industry and healthcare partners further support impactful work that improves lives worldwide. The institutes exemplify Imperial’s ongoing pursuit of excellence in research and its commitment to innovation that makes a tangible difference.


Imperial College London has a long and storied history of breakthrough discoveries and innovations that have significantly impacted science and technology. Founded in 1907, Imperial College has been at the forefront of scientific progress for over a century. Some of the most notable discoveries and developments to come from Imperial College researchers include:

Penicillin – In 1928, microbiologist Alexander Fleming made his famous discovery of penicillin at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, which later became part of Imperial College. Fleming’s accidental discovery that the mold Penicillium notatum killed or prevented the growth of disease-causing bacteria revolutionized modern medicine and saved millions of lives. Without Fleming’s critical find at Imperial, antibiotics may never have been discovered.

DNA structure – In 1953, physicists James Watson and Francis Crick jointly discovered the double-helix structure of DNA at the Cavendish Laboratory at Imperial. Their breakthrough revealed the molecular basis of heredity and paved the way for major fields like genetics, molecular biology, and genomics. The importance of the discovery of the DNA double helix structure cannot be overstated, as it unlocked understanding of how life works at its most fundamental level.

Hovercraft – In the 1950s, aeronautical engineer Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft while working at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Hovercraft Club at Imperial. His creation allowed vessels to travel over virtually any surface, whether land or sea. Hovercraft technology enabled high-speed travel in shallow waters and swampland. It has military, commercial, and recreational applications. Several prototypes were tested on the Thames near Imperial before live hovercraft demonstrations.

First gene drive – In 2016, geneticist Andrea Crisanti and colleagues at Imperial developed the first successful gene drive in mosquitoes. Gene drives are genetic engineering techniques that can override normal rules of inheritance to rapidly spread desired traits throughout a population. The Imperial team engineered a gene drive that biased inheritance in favor of male mosquitoes, causing a population crash. This breakthrough could help control the spread of deadly mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.

Blue LEDs – In the 1990s, chemist Sir Shankar Balasubramanian co-invented a new technique called sequencing-by-synthesis at the Department of Chemistry at Imperial. This enabled the development of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which are more energy-efficient than incandescent and halogen lights. Blue LEDs are now found in displays, lighting, laser diode displays, and biological microscopy. Balasubramanian’s work opened up advanced technologies like high-definition televisions and smartphones.

COVID-19 vaccine technology – Researchers at Imperial’s Department of Infectious Disease led by Robin Shattock developed a self-amplifying RNA vaccine against COVID-19 in 2020. Their approach represented an innovative new technology that could enable more scalable mass production of next-generation viral vaccines compared to conventional vaccines. While their vaccine is still in development and testing, it demonstrated the talent for novel technologies at Imperial amid the global pandemic.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – In the 1970s and 80s, physicists Peter Mansfield and Peter Grannell at Imperial made seminal contributions to MRI technology. Mansfield developed the mathematical methods needed for rapidly acquiring MR images – known as echo-planar imaging. Grannell invented methods to automatically shim magnetic fields in MRI scanners, improving image quality. MRI is now universally used worldwide to non-invasively image soft tissues in the body, revolutionizing fields like radiology, cardiology, neurology and oncology.

This covers just a sampling of the profoundly impactful breakthroughs made by Imperial College researchers over decades. Imperial scholars have also made strides in wireless technology, renewable energy, climate science, aerospace engineering, and many other domains. With advanced facilities and an culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration, Imperial College continues pushing the boundaries of knowledge today across science, technology, medicine and business for the benefit of humanity.


Imperial College London has a long and distinguished history of conducting pioneering research that has contributed significantly to the development of sustainable energy solutions. One of the earliest areas of focus for the university was solar energy, with researchers studying photovoltaic cells and solar thermal technologies as far back as the 1950s. Imperial explored both silicon-based photovoltaics and early thin-film technologies, making important contributions to improving conversion efficiencies and lowering production costs.

In more recent decades, Imperial has ramped up its sustainable energy research activities substantially. In 2006, the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment was established to bring together Imperial’s world-leading expertise across many areas relevant to mitigating and adapting to climate change. This includes research focusing on low-carbon energy technologies and systems, energy storage, smart grids and distribution networks, renewable power generation from sources such as solar, wind, marine and geothermal, low-carbon transport, sustainable urban design and planning, climate change impacts and resilience, environmental policy and economics.

One of the key areas Imperial has investigated is solar photovoltaic technology, with a focus on developing new low-cost thin-film technologies that offer huge potential for solar power deployment. Researchers developed some of the world’s most efficient multi-junction solar cells using compound semiconductors like gallium arsenide. They also pioneered the use of transparent oxides as front contacts on thin-film silicon solar cells, enabling manufacturing efficiencies. More recently, Imperial scientists have researched emerging perovskite solar cell materials that could rival silicon-based PV for cost and performance.

Energy storage is another major research theme, especially as it relates to integrating variable renewable power sources like wind and solar into the grid. Imperial has developed advanced lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries, supercapacitors and thermal energy storage technologies. They are also exploring hydrogen fuel cells and production from renewable power as an energy carrier. One notable project involved deploying the UK’s first residential energy storage system linked to rooftop solar PV.

Imperial is a world leader in research into sustainable marine renewable energy sources like wave, tidal, and offshore wind power. Engineers played key roles in developing innovative offshore wind turbine and foundation designs. Oceanographers study resource characterization and environmental impacts. Social scientists investigate community engagement and public policy support. Researchers also work on testing marine energy converters and developing advanced power take-off and control systems.

Energy systems modeling and analysis is another core area of focus. Imperial researchers build sophisticated energy system simulation tools and whole-systems optimization models to design low-carbon, resilient and affordable pathways for countries, regions and cities. This work evaluates integration of renewables, low-carbon heating, electrified transport, grid infrastructure needs, demand-side flexibility and more. Key partnerships include advising policymakers at national and city levels.

Imperial also conducts extensive research regarding low-carbon transport solutions like electric vehicles, vehicle-grid integration, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, advanced biofuels and sustainable urban mobility planning. Other work examines low-carbon heating technologies such as heat pumps, district heating networks and integrated community energy systems combining generation, storage and demand-side response.

Through these many research efforts over decades, Imperial College London has made numerous seminal contributions advancing sustainable energy technologies, systems, policies and solutions. They continue tackling critical challenges as countries worldwide accelerate transitions to net-zero carbon economies powered increasingly by renewable energy. Imperial’s cross-disciplinary expertise will prove invaluable for pioneering the next generation of clean energy innovations needed to mitigate climate change. Their researchers play a leading role in both scientific progress and advising real-world deployment of sustainable energy solutions globally.