World Class Research

World class research within the College of Science & Engineering addresses critical scientific questions, industrial and global challenges. Our researchers collaborate across disciplines, institutions and with industry, policymakers, charities and practitioners, providing new insights and solutions across sectors.

Research ranges from the fundamental and theoretical to challenge driven and applied. It is underpinned by state-of-the-art facilities and produces leading edge scientific tools and equipment to support emerging research themes.

Ensuring that our research creates lasting impact is at the core of our Research Strategy, and our researchers have contributed to some of the most exciting scientific discoveries and developments over the years, from quantum systems on a chip to gravitational waves.

A sustainable net zero future

A growing plant budSustainability at the University of Glasgow means 'safeguarding the natural environment while progressing toward equitable and just conditions for current and future generations.' Researchers across the College of Science & Engineering contribute to sustainability research through and with the Centre for Sustainable Solutions

The challenge of net zero is a key part to achieving sustainability. Meeting net zero requires a balance between reducing emissions where we cannot eliminate them, and 'negative emissions' from activities such as active carbon removal and reforestation.

Our research to achieve a sustainable net zero future is wide ranging; from hydrogen for heating, to energy efficiency in manufacturing; using waste materials to create new self-healing construction products and for carbon capture; designing alternative catalysts for ammonia production to deliver ammonia as a carbon-free fuel and using geothermal resources in multi-source, multi-product energy systems to reduce their carbon footprint; while water engineers are addressing the need for clean water and sanitation while decarbonising the water industry. Additionally, we must be able to measure and model how we are progressing with respect to targets – and our researchers are developing and adding value to net zero data and analytics infrastructure – allowing progress to be tracked and supporting decision making.

Our research is critical to the discovery, development, and deployment of solutions to tackle climate change, enhance sustainability and ensure economic prosperity. We are investigating interactions across ecosystems to deliver solutions to decarbonise our economy and society and enable a sustainable net zero future. ​

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Future Telecoms

Future Telecoms

Over 100 researchers in the College of Science & Engineering are addressing the challenges of Future Telecommunications. This research focuses on providing robust and secure high-speed communications and has a range of applications including mobile healthcare, security, energy, and agriculture both locally and in developing countries, addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

5G research is an area of significant strength; we are a founding partner in the Scottish 5G Centre and leading the deployment of a 5G urban testbed in Glasgow. The College hosts world leading facilities for communication systems and devices measurements and experimentation – including facilities for 6G device testing. Enabling technologies in wireless communications, optical networking and fibre optics/mm wave and THz wireless links require novel semiconductor devices and circuits – and these are manufactured in our world-leading James Watt Nanofabrication Centre and characterised at chip level.

Wireless communication research includes the design of new waveforms, their theoretical and practical performance evaluation, and their system-level performance. This research also covers physical layer security applications in machine-to-machine and Internet-of-things communications. Advanced security is an essential ingredient of communication networks to ensure fail safe operation and Blockchain and distributed ledger technology underpins this work.

Researchers are designing pop-up emergency networks based on the principles of self-organisation. When communications systems are destroyed or overwhelmed, these pop-up networks will accelerate aid to remote communities, ensure rescue services have up to date information and can coordinate resources.

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Healthcare Technologies

Research into healthcare is undertaken in every School in the College. Much of the work is interdisciplinary, collaborating with colleagues in academia, industry, the NHS and beyond. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, aims 'to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages' and our research contributes to achieving this goal both locally and through many international partnerships.

Medical devices research ranges from paper-based diagnostics to test and aid disease elimination in vulnerable communities around the world to the development of novel microscopy platforms for future world leading biological research.

Mathematical, statistical and computational modelling is applied to cardiac and cancer physiology and disease as well as modelling the human retina. Our biomaterials research outputs finds applications in medical devices, diagnostics and implants amongst others.

Pioneering technologies are being researched targeting applications in computational biology, intelligent social agents, decision support tools, brain computer interfaces and health modelling.

Novel chemistry is developed to understand biology and address challenges in biomedicine including cancer, stroke, dementia and cardiovascular disease.

Across the College, Machine Learning, communications, and Quantum technologies and are being applied to healthcare to provide wearable devices and remote monitoring for proactive healthcare.

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Materials Research

a researcher using a pipette in a labOur research addresses critical scientific questions, industrial and global challenges. We study fundamental phenomena and employ cutting-edge materials science characterisation approaches to find solutions for challenges in sectors such as healthcare, sustainable energy, electronics and  information technology. Research is underpinned by state-of-the-art facilities such as The Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre, one of the UK's leading centres for electron and ion microscopies, and ISAAC Imaging Spectroscopy and Analysis Centre which provides analytical and imaging solutions to industry, the public sector, and academia.

Quantum and Nano Technologies

Coloured light shining through a cube‘The Nano and Quantum World’, one of the University’s six Research Beacons, is led by the College of Science & Engineering.

Our strength builds on over 30 years of excellence in micro- and nanofabrication, delivered through the world-leading James Watt Nano Fabrication centre (JWNC). The JWNC hosts >£37m of nanofabrication tools, supporting >£53m active University research grants as well as four EPSRC Quantum Technology Hubs. Additionally, the Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre operates and develops a suite of highly advanced microscopes to observe and measure the physical, chemical, electronic, and magnetic structure of materials systems.

In the field of nanotechnology our researchers study fundamental phenomena and the properties of materials, they are developing essential fabrication techniques and modelling tools to enable real-life devices. For instance, creating sensors that enable measurements to be made at these length scales with much higher precision that conventional ones, as well as delivering semiconductor and superconducting devices to enable the next generation of quantum technologies. Our investigations cover magnetic, spintronic, photonic, mechanical and thermal properties, and research connects quantum computing and sensing, condensed matter and material science. Our research contributes to a wide range of applications spanning information processing, sensing and energy harvesting for healthcare, security, environmental monitoring, position, navigation and timing and many more.

The University’s Centre for Quantum Technology brings together physicists, engineers and computer scientists to tackle cutting-edge scientific, technological research and innovation in quantum research. Challenges addressed include Sensing & Imaging for: Climate Change, Defence and Security; Intelligent Transport & Imaging for Space.

The University leads QuantIC, the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Enhanced Imaging, bringing industry and academia together to revolutionise imaging across industrial, scientific and consumer markets.

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Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Robotics researchersRobotics and Autonomous Systems are widely used across industrial manufacturing, assembly, healthcare, surgery, education, transport, inspection and maintenance.

Such systems require multidisciplinary technical skills including electronics, mechanics, software, control engineering and communications technologies.

Across the College of Science & Engineering our researchers are tackling the challenges including safety compliance, reliability, resilience, power and privacy, developing systems to operate in complex and extreme environments while taking into account end user needs, and potential concerns.


Moon rising over EarthSpace Glasgow research aims to improve our understanding of space and develop the next generation of space technologies to influence the future of the growing space industry. Our mathematicians work on the fluid dynamics of stars and planets; research undertaken by our physicists was central to the detection of gravitational waves; engineers are developing technologies to enable future missions; planetary scientists were part of the team who found the Winchcombe meteorite; chemists have extracted oxygen from moonrock; and computing scientists apply cyber security research to space missions and satellite communications. Our work ranges from the fundamental, to directly applied when collaborating with local and international industrial partners.

The Sun and Mars are the focus of a wide range of research activities. By understanding where and when water existed in the solar system we can develop new models of the early evolution of Earth and Mars and how human exploration of the solar system could be supported. Space weather is mainly driven by the Sun and its activity (e.g. radiation storms). Using sensor networks in space we study the electromagnetic environment around the earth and mitigate risks through e.g. early storm detection.

In 2015 gravitational waves, oscillations in the fabric of spacetime, moving at the speed of light and caused by the acceleration of massive objects, were finally detected. Over 40 years of research by our physicists was central to that detection. The Institute for Gravitational Research led on the conception, development, construction and installation of sensitive mirror suspensions in the heart of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) detectors. Alongside this success, scientists have developed, built and tested the optical bench interferometer that is at the heart of LISA Pathfinder – a spaceborne gravitational wave detector.

With gravity on Mars only 38% of that on earth, acquiring samples requires novel technologies. Ultrasonic and percussive drills have been developed to penetrate rock, these have a low drilling force, have low power consumption and are simple to deploy remotely. Exploring beneath the surface of other planets will help us learn more about their histories and the formation of the solar system.

Future exploration missions and satellite applications are being supported by the development of technologies through simulation, lab-scale demonstrations and terrestrial analogues. Our state-of-the-art facilities support research for lunar, Mars and asteroid missions.

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