Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden

Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden, Institute Director


Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden has been director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS since February 2022. In her research work she is primarily concerned with the nano- and micromechanics of materials such as metals, ceramics and composites. This serves to deepen our understanding of the application behavior of such materials, especially with regard to deformation, dislocation, fatigue and defect formation up to fracture. Her research also contributes to the tailor-made development of materials with specific properties for high-performance applications and multi-scale material systems.

Following her studies in materials science at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and her Ph.D. at Stanford University, her professional career has included positions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and most recently as Head of the Department of Experimental Materials Mechanics at the Helmholtz Center hereon. From 2014 to February 2022, she was Professor of Experimental Nano- and Micromechanics at the Institute for High-Performance Ceramic Materials at the Hamburg University of Technology.

Her scientific publications to date include more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. She is a regularly invited speaker at high-profile international meetings and symposia, has been a lecturer since 2002, and is on the review panel for renowned journals such as Science, Nature, and Nature Materials.

Video interview with Prof. Dr. Erica Lilleodden on taking office.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Höche

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Prof. Dr. Thomas Höche, Deputy Director

Prof. Dr. Thomas Höche has been Deputy Head of the Fraunhofer IMWS since October 1, 2019. Born in Halle, he studied physics at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg. This was followed by stints at the Max Planck Institute for Metal Research in Stuttgart, at the Otto Schott Institute for Glass Chemistry at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, at the Chair of Crystallography of the Institute of Physics at Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Leibniz Institute for Surface Modification e.V. Leipzig (IOM). Parallel to his work at the IOM, he joined 3D-Micromac AG in Chemnitz, where he was responsible for IP management and strategic corporate development, among other things.

In 2005 he completed his habilitation procedure at the University of Leipzig, where he was appointed Associate Professor of Experimental Physics in 2008. He has been working at Fraunhofer IMWS since 2010, where he has been Head of the “Optical Materials and Technologies” business unit since 2018.

His research focuses on the nanostructuring of inorganic materials, especially glass ceramics and optical thin films, as well as their characterization with sophisticated techniques of microstructure diagnostics. In addition, there is the commercialization of new preparation techniques, such as the microPREPTM.

Höche has published more than 200 articles in referenced journals and holds around 30 patents and patent applications. His awards include the Max von Laue Prize of the German Society for Crystallography (2006), the Innovation Prize of TÜV SÜD (2018) and the Hugo Junkers Prize of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, 1st place in the category »Applied Research» (2018).

Thomas Merkel

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Thomas Merkel, Administration Manager

Thomas Merkel studied law at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and at the University of Zurich with a focus on business law. Following his second state examination, he worked as Legal Counsel in the legal department of Credit Suisse in Frankfurt am Main. There, he was mainly involved with issues of employment, banking, corporate and commercial law. Thomas Merkel was admitted to the bar in September 2004 and additionally to the bar as an in-house lawyer in 2016.

In July 2007, he joined the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft as a consultant to the institute's management for human resources and law at what is now the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. Since January 2009, he has been Head of Administration for the Fraunhofer IMWS and thus responsible for the individual areas of finance, human resources, technical services and IT as well as for the area of law and compliance. Within the institute management, he takes over the administrative tasks of the Fraunhofer IMWS and represents the institute Director in these areas, among other things as an interface to the central administration of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. On a higher level, Thomas Merkel is involved in committees of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.