Blog: Research

Marvellous Medical Materials: Stainless Steel - Part One

08-11-17

Marvellous Medical Materials: Stainless Steel - Part One

In this series of blog posts, Sarah Wilkes (Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Institute) gets over-excited about the ways that materials like silicone rubber and silver impact on our health and wellbeing. This post is one of a two-parter that explores the gradual historical domination of stainless steel in surgical tools and medical implants, its health risks and rewards from the point of view of a variety of actors (including the patient undergoing hip replacement, the airplane passenger and the welder) and its role in infection control in the modern hospital. More

Hands of X @ Cubitts Kings X

20-6-17

Hands of X @ Cubitts Kings X

The Hands of X team are presenting a prototype of their exciting bespoke prosthetics service at Cubitts Kings Cross this Thursday and Friday. More

Marvellous Medical Material of the Moment: Soap

05-6-17

Marvellous Medical Material of the Moment: Soap

In this series of blog posts Sarah Wilkes, Wellcome Trust research fellow at the Institute, gets over-excited about the ways in which materials like silicone rubber and silver impact on our health and wellbeing. This post takes an in-depth and wide-ranging look at saponaceous substances! More

PhysFeel Round 2: Call for Volunteers

25-11-16

PhysFeel Round 2: Call for Volunteers

Do you want to take part in a 3rd year undergraduate student study exploring how we interpret emotions from objects? More

ODD Summer 2016

11-11-16

ODD Summer 2016

This year the LEGO2NANO and OpenAFM projects joined forces to work on a new initiative - the ODD Summer. This exciting international challenge aims to task students to produce real-world solutions to some of the problems set by the 17 sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations in September 2015. More

LTM Online Course

28-7-16

LTM Online Course

Our new, free, online course will give you an introduction to doing design-led materials research, taught through the real case study of the Light.Touch.Matters project. More

The Great Grammatizator

26-5-16

The Great Grammatizator

Our Scrambled Messaging Machine competition has been announced, and Alexandra Bridarolli’s winning idea, The Great Grammatizator is now under way in the Makespace! More

PhysFeel - Call for Volunteers

23-3-16

PhysFeel - Call for Volunteers

Are you interested in helping us with a study that explores the link between emotions and material properties? More

Community Building for Design-Led Materials Research

11-12-15

Community Building for Design-Led Materials Research

The Institute of Making are delighted to have awarded EPSRC small grants to five teams for community-building activities that focus on design-led approaches to materials. More

LEGO2NANO is now OpenAFM

09-11-15

LEGO2NANO is now OpenAFM

LEGO2NANO’s development project OpenAFM has taken a big leap forward in the last couple of weeks with a newly designed 3D printable structure for the device. More

Member profile: Dafne Morgado

11-9-15

Member profile: Dafne Morgado

In the Makespace Dafne has been making force sensors and elongation/bending sensors, which attach to the replica human hands and finger joints she has been making as part of our Wearable Assistive Materials project. More

Light Touch Materials in the Lab
Play

06-5-15

Light Touch Materials in the Lab

Ever wondered how flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and piezoelectric polymers are made? These films provide a window into the research labs making state-of-the-art flexible and sensing light technologies. More

The Open Workshop Network

03-5-15

The Open Workshop Network

The Open Workshop Network (OWN) is an ongoing research project led by our PhD student, Liz Corbin, into the larger making community of London. More

Dangerous Diaries: Octagon Gallery

30-4-15

Dangerous Diaries: Octagon Gallery

The Institute of Making are collaborating with researchers, makers and materials enthusiasts from around UCL and beyond to put together the latest Octagon Gallery exhibition, looking at the risks and rewards involved in fabrication. More

Institute of Making: Second Year Report

16-4-15

Institute of Making: Second Year Report

This document summarises the majority of our activities, undertaken during our second year of operation at UCL. More

Hidden Histories of Things - Mon 26th Jan

12-1-15

Hidden Histories of Things - Mon 26th Jan

Places available on the 'Hidden Histories of Things' research seminar, organised by the Open University's Commodity Histories project and the Institute of Making. Mon 26th Jan, 9.30am - 4.30pm. More

LEGO2NANO Beijing, 2014

06-9-14

LEGO2NANO Beijing, 2014

This week in Beijing China, 12 Institute of Making members and 12 students from Beijing Universities collaborate to build a low-cost open-source Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) using LEGO and hacked electronic equipment, enabling high-school students to explore materials in miniature. More

An Introduction to Light Touch Matters
Play

01-7-14

An Introduction to Light Touch Matters

Watch the introductory film for the Light Touch Matters research project: a collaboration between designers, design researchers and materials researchers from across the EU working on new and affordable products that respond to touch with light. More

Summer Studentships - Round Three

07-5-14

Summer Studentships - Round Three

Apply now for our third and final round of Bridging the Gaps Summer Studentships! Deadline for applications - Monday 26th May at 5pm. More

Institute of Making: First Year Report

07-5-14

Institute of Making: First Year Report

An overview of our first year of operation at UCL. More

Staff Materials Bursary

06-5-14

Staff Materials Bursary

All staff members of the Institute of Making are eligible to apply for a Materials Bursary of up to £250 to go towards the material costs of any project undertaken at the Institute of Making. Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 23rd May. More

Making Repairs Research Workshop

17-2-14

Making Repairs Research Workshop

Last week, a group of repair experts and enthusiasts from multiple disciplines gathered at the Institute of Making for a day-long workshop interrogating the materials and technologies that make repair possible, and the cultural imperatives that encourage it. More

Light Touch Matters - Materials Demo Film
Play

01-2-14

Light Touch Matters - Materials Demo Film

Watch a demo of early Light Touch Matters materials, and keep your eyes peeled for further materials developments! More

Antimicrobial Materials

31-12-13

Antimicrobial Materials

Director of Making Martin Conreen will be in residence this month, developing a new research project. More

3D Manufacturing: Promises, Pitfalls and Potential

21-10-13

3D Manufacturing: Promises, Pitfalls and Potential

This workshop focused on the potential and pitfalls of the materials and technologies currently used in 3D printing. It brought together a mix of researchers from different disciplines that have been pushing the boundaries of 3D printing in terms of the materials, software, designs and uses for 3D printers. More

Research grants available for UCL staff and postgraduate students

09-10-13

Research grants available for UCL staff and postgraduate students

As part of our EPSRC Bridging the Gaps project The Institute of Making are offering interdisciplinary teams of researchers from around UCL up to £5000 to support pilot projects, networks and grant writing on topics relating to materials and making. More

LEGO2NANO - The LEGO microscope challenge

18-9-13

LEGO2NANO - The LEGO microscope challenge

In one week, can 32 young scientists and designers from China and the UK develop a new type of low-cost scanning probe microscope, powerful enough to study the nano world? More

LEGO2NANO Summer School - The Great Egg Race
Play

13-8-13

LEGO2NANO Summer School - The Great Egg Race

LEGO2NANO - An international nanotechnology making challenge, 1–7 September 2013, Beijing, China More

Light Touch Matters - London Workshop
Play

01-7-13

Light Touch Matters - London Workshop

Watch a film made by the wonderful R&A Collaborations at the London workshop for the Light Touch Matters project. More

Materials at the Centre

30-4-13

Materials at the Centre

Our first research workshop at UCL brought together researchers from across the arts and humanities, social and historical sciences and physical sciences to interrogate the relationship between academic research and materials and making. More

Funding for Summer Studentships - Round Two

20-4-13

Funding for Summer Studentships - Round Two

Funding for summer studentships is now available. Our first round of summer projects saw students engaged in novel interdisciplinary projects to do with materials and processes as wide-ranging as weaving and nano-enabled catalysis. More

Light.Touch.Matters

04-2-13

Light.Touch.Matters

The Institute of Making is involved in a collaborative research project that brings together product designers and material researchers to develop a new generation of materials that respond to touch with luminosity. More

Wearable Exoskeleton Project

01-2-13

Wearable Exoskeleton Project

The Institute of Making is involved in a research project to develop a wearable exoskeleton for people who are experiencing difficulties in walking. More

Lessening Friction: a Summer Studentship update

22-11-12

Lessening Friction: a Summer Studentship update

We have just heard back from Manpreet Padwall, who spent his summer studentship helping to develop a new methodology that could pave the way for fabrics that are kinder to the skin. More

Summer Studentship Update

24-10-12

Summer Studentship Update

As reports from the Summer Studentships start to make their way back to us we’re getting very excited about the emerging collaborations that the scheme has stimulated throughout UCL. More

Materials and Touch

12-7-12

Materials and Touch

A team from the Institute of Making have published a paper on the materials science of touch perception. It shows that there is shift in touch perception for some materials that is dependent on what one sees. More

7 Summer Studentships Funded

08-6-12

7 Summer Studentships Funded

The Institute of Making has funded seven summer projects More

Summer Studentships

27-4-12

Summer Studentships

We have some funds available for interdisciplinary studentships. More

26-1-12

Taste of Materials Experiment - Volunteers Needed

Do you fancy taking part in an experiment we are running to investigate further The Taste of Materials? Our next round of experiments are about to begin and we are looking for willing volunteers to donate an hour of their time. More

Phil’s Findings #19: Radioactivity

05-12-11

Phil’s Findings #19: Radioactivity

As the scientists of the early 20th century were getting stuck into the fundamental study of radiation and radioactivity, it became quite the fashion to include radioactive substances in pretty much anything and everything, from vases and spark plugs to toothpastes, lozenges, and even condoms. More

Phil’s Findings #18: Elements of Life

14-11-11

Phil’s Findings #18: Elements of Life

The human body is an object of immense complexity. It is quite staggering how a set of chemical reactions – starting from the moment of conception – can make our bodies grow and function the way they do, and ultimately give rise to our consciousness, our emotions, and everything that it is to be human. It is very easy to forget that our bodies are simply constructed from the chemicals elements, like anything else around us, both animate and inanimate. We are made from materials. More

Phil’s Findings #17: Perceptual Equivalence

24-10-11

Phil’s Findings #17: Perceptual Equivalence

Our interaction with the world around us is completely governed by our perception of it. Our five senses are being constantly fed with a rich variety of inputs, and what we see, feel, touch, taste and smell creates a huge amount of sensorial data. The brain is literally bombarded with information – constantly and simultaneously - throughout your waking day, and it has a hell of a job to do to unravel and decode all those messages. However, such is the utter sophistication of the brain that, for the vast majority of us, it does it with complete ease. More

Phil’s Findings #16: Glass

03-10-11

Phil’s Findings #16: Glass

Glass is an incredible material which finds a use in almost all parts of our life. The word itself is embedded in our material language – ask for ‘a glass’ and you’re asking for a something to drink from, or when talking about ‘glasses’ we are referring to spectacles. It is a very versatile material, being used in everything from fine jewellery and to colossal sky scrapers, and everything in between. More

Phil’s Findings #15: Rubber Bands

19-9-11

Phil’s Findings #15: Rubber Bands

Most materials expand when heated. This is why the mercury in a thermometer rises with temperature, and it is why railway tracks are built with gaps between the ends of each rail. More

Phil’s Findings #14: Rubber

05-9-11

Phil’s Findings #14: Rubber

The native cultures of Central America are thought to have been the first people to make use of the extraordinary properties of natural rubber. The rubber, which they would tap from specific types of trees, was used to make various things including shoes, water carriers, and balls to play games with. Columbus observed how these native peoples were using natural rubber in his voyages in the fifteenth century, however it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that rubber and rubber trees were brought back to Europe and seriously experimented upon. More

Phil’s Finding’s #13: Plastic Fantastic

22-8-11

Phil’s Finding’s #13: Plastic Fantastic

The first man made plastic was patented by Alexander Parkes in the UK in 1856. Since then, plastic has gone on to become a dominate force in our material world, being used in everything from spectacles to spaceships. They can be moulded, cast, blown, pressed or extruded into sheets, films fibers, tubes, bottles, and much more. More

Phil’s Findings #12: Metallic Aesthetic

16-8-11

Phil’s Findings #12: Metallic Aesthetic

We are surrounded by metal. It forms the structures of our buildings, it’s used to make the vehicles that transport us around our world, and it’s at the root of all our hi-tech gadgets. Although metal is commonly used for its strength or high conductivity in mechanical and structural applications, it has a definite aesthetic appeal which stretches far beyond its purely functional side. More

Phil’s Findings #11: Metal and Psychadelia

01-8-11

Phil’s Findings #11: Metal and Psychadelia

The world can look very different through the lens of a microscope, as this picture of a metal surface shows. We can see that what’s going on in the microstructure of the metal is a far cry from what we see with the naked eye. More

Phil’s Findings #10: Metal

25-7-11

Phil’s Findings #10: Metal

Metals have been central to the development of our civilisation. This is evident in our naming of key times in history, such as the Bronze and Iron Ages. Over time, our understanding of metallurgy and our ability to manipulate metals improved, giving rise to one of the most iconic structural materials man has ever made: steel. More

Phil’s Findings #9: Wood

18-7-11

Phil’s Findings #9: Wood

We humans have quite a strange relationship with wood. On the one hand, we use it as a strong and durable construction material, and indeed it has been heavily relied on ever since the earliest of civilisations tried their hands at construction. On the other hand, wood is used as a disposable fuel source, unleashing the energy which it captures from the sun during its growth. The result is that we see wood as simultaneously being something that can be strong and long lasting, and short lived and disposable. More

Phil’s Finding’s #8: The Sensoaesthetic Side of Materials

11-7-11

Phil’s Finding’s #8: The Sensoaesthetic Side of Materials

What can materials science tell us about the aesthetic and emotional side of materials? Upon first consideration it may seem that a hard scientific discipline may not shed too much light on the softer side of materials. However, upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that the way we interact with and the emotion we feel from all materials is rooted in their fundamental physical properties. More

Phil’s Findings #7: Human Haptics

04-7-11

Phil’s Findings #7: Human Haptics

The study of human haptics is an exciting and rapidly evolving field. It has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we interact with our everyday environment, and with each other. Furthermore, haptic devices are already making an impact on how we interact with some technologies. More

Phil’s Findings #6: Multisensory Design

27-6-11

Phil’s Findings #6: Multisensory Design

Last time I talked about the grand plan behind our work in sensoaesthetics, and how we would like to nurture a more collaborative relationship between materials science and materials-arts. What I provided was a general description, but I didn’t describe any applications. So what about it? Where can we go with this work? More

Bridging the Gaps workshop

27-6-11

Bridging the Gaps workshop

On Friday, 24 June, King’s College London (KCL) staff members from some 15 departments took part in the Institute of Making’s introductory session for Bridging the Gaps, an EPSRC-funded initiative aimed at bridging the gaps between KCL’s internal communities through the topic of materials. The main focus of the session was to outline the opportunities available to internal staff and to begin gathering ideas and proposals for the Festival of Materials & Making, which will see KCL campuses celebrate the exciting activities around materials and making taking place at the College later this year. More

Phil’s Findings #5: What am I doing?

20-6-11

Phil’s Findings #5: What am I doing?

In my previous post I described some of the basic ideas of psychophysics, the science of the senses. This is going to form a core part of my work at the Institute of Making. However, I’m a physicist, and I work in an engineering department. So what’s the connection? More

Phil’s Findings #4: Psychophysics!

13-6-11

Phil’s Findings #4: Psychophysics!

Since I started work at the Institute of Making I’ve had quite a few conversations along the lines of the following. I’ll be asked “So what are you studying now?”, to which I reply “Psychophysics”, and I almost always get an answer along the lines of “What on earth is that?”. More

Phil’s Finding’s #3: Swimming through Syrup

06-6-11

Phil’s Finding’s #3: Swimming through Syrup

During my research career, I’ve been lucky enough to work in a number of different areas and take on new projects. At the moment, I’m doing a lot of reading about psychophysics and statistics, both of which I haven’t studied in depth before. These are both fascinating areas, however a first look at the background material proved to be slightly baffling. More

02-6-11

Research page now live

At the heart of our work here at the Institute of making is research. So, fittingly, we’ve now created a Research area on our website where you can learn more about the projects we’re involved in. More

Phil’s Findings #2: More Tasting Notes

31-5-11

Phil’s Findings #2: More Tasting Notes

In my last post, I left you with the question ‘is the basic tastes model too simple?’ Well, some people would argue that yes, the four (or five) basic tastes do not seem enough to be able to encompass all possible tastes. More

Phil’s Findings #1: A Matter of Taste

23-5-11

Phil’s Findings #1: A Matter of Taste

Phil Howes, the Institute of Making’s post-doc researcher, shares his thoughts and findings as he delves into the sensoaesthetic world of materials. This is the first of a weekly installment: check this space every Monday for Phil's latest posting. More