Top MIT research stories of 2020

The year’s popular research stories include astronomical firsts, scientific breakthroughs, and engineering milestones addressing Covid-19 and other global problems.

MIT News Office • mit
Dec. 22, 2020 ~5 min

covid-19 pandemic research school-of-architecture-and-planning school-of-engineering school-of-science mit-sloan-school-of-management school-of-arts-humanities-and-social-sciences

3 Questions: Using fabric to “listen” to space dust

Fabric samples are headed to the International Space Station for resiliency testing; possible applications include cosmic dust detectors or spacesuit smart skins.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office • mit
Nov. 25, 2020 ~11 min

chemistry electronics nasa research graduate-postdoctoral media-lab school-of-architecture-and-planning school-of-engineering school-of-science 3-questions research-laboratory-of-electronics materials-science-and-engineering dmse space-astronomy-and-planetary-science

Versatile building blocks make structures with surprising mechanical properties

The subunits could be robotically assembled to produce large, complex objects, including cars, robots, or wind turbine blades.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office • mit
Nov. 18, 2020 ~10 min

robots nasa research school-of-architecture-and-planning center-for-bits-and-atoms self-assembly

Truncated immune system receptors may regulate cellular activity

Unexpected findings in chemokine receptors once believed to be non-functional open up new fields of scientific inquiry.

Michaela Jarvis | MIT Media Lab • mit
Oct. 28, 2020 ~7 min

cancer covid-19 viruses research cells proteins media-lab school-of-architecture-and-planning school-of-science koch-institute

A wearable sensor to help ALS patients communicate

Researchers have designed a skin-like device that can measure small facial movements in patients who have lost the ability to speak.

Anne Trafton | MIT News Office • mit
Oct. 22, 2020 ~8 min

research assistive-technology media-lab school-of-architecture-and-planning national-science-foundation-nsf amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis-als