Materials Library

A detail shot of Materials Library cabinet

The Materials Library is a collection of some of the most wondrous materials on earth, gathered from sheds, labs, grottoes and repositories around the world. It is a resource, laboratory, studio, and playground for the curious and material-minded to conduct hands-on research through truly interdisciplinary inquiry and innovation.

The Materials Library was established in 2005 by a team of passionate material addicts Martin Conreen, Zoe Laughlin, and Mark Miodownik; the archive of the project can be found at In 2011, the collection became the central resource of the Institute of Making and in 2012, the project moved from King’s College London to a specially designed new space at University College London (UCL).

In its new home, the Materials Library is growing and developing, remaining at the heart of the Institute of Making alongside the MakeSpace workshop, enabling users to experience at first hand the relationships between materials and tools that constitute processes of making.

To visit the Library, come to one of our monthly open days where you can ask questions, handle materials and learn more. Sign up to the newsletter to hear all about our public events. If you have a specific request, contact us.

Materials Top 10

01 Aerogel


One of the lightest solids on earth

02 Aluminium Nitride Wafer

Aluminium Nitride Wafer

Cuts ice like butter

03 Bioglass Scaffold

Bioglass Scaffold

Provokes cells to turn into bone on contact

04 Rapid Prototype Nylon Chainmail

Rapid Prototype Nylon Chainmail

A technology to change the world

05 Silicon Nitride Ball Bearing

Silicon Nitride Ball Bearing

Smashes concrete without a scratch

06 Ferro fluid

Ferro fluid

A liquid that alters its viscosity as a result of magnetic interference

07 Thermochromic Brick

Thermochromic Brick

To bring change to our cities

08 Tin Stick

Tin Stick

A metal that cries

09 Shape Memory Alloy

Shape Memory Alloy

Metal that remembers its shape 

10 TV Rock

TV Rock

A naturally occurring optical fibre