30 years of Fraunhofer in Halle (Saale)

For 30 years, employees of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS in Halle (Saale) have been conducting research on microstructure diagnostics and design as well as microstructure-based technology development. On November 2, 2022, the institute's anniversary was celebrated at a festive colloquium with guests from business, politics, and science. Among the well-wishers were the Minister for Science, Energy, Climate Action and the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, Professor Armin Willingmann, Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and the Mayor of the City of Halle (Saale), Egbert Geier.

© © Fraunhofer IMWS / Andreas Lander
The institute's 30th anniversary was celebrated at a festive colloquium with guests from business, politics and science. Professor Armin Willingmann, Minister for Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment and Deputy Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt (left) and Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (right), congratulated the Institute's Director Professor Erica Lilleodden.

What began as a branch of the Freiburg Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Halle (Saale) 30 years ago with fewer than 20 employees and in 2016 became the independent Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, is now a renowned research institution with four locations and more than 350 employees. The core competencies of microstructure diagnostics and design, and the question of the service life and reliability of materials and systems associated therewith, formed the starting point for the institute's continuously successful development and opened ever new areas of business for it over the years. 

With highly developed analysis technology and preparation techniques that made it possible to penetrate even the smallest micro- and nano-areas of materials, the focus initially turned to microelectronics and the field of microsystems technology which emerged in the 1990s. Driven by the endeavor to strengthen the innovative power of industry, both regionally and throughout Germany, and to address the key issues of the future, scientists gradually built up successful business models for research and development in the area of electronics, plastics, health, photovoltaics, optical materials, hydrogen and carbon cycle technologies.

Today, the Fraunhofer IMWS is significantly shaping the future topics of sustainability, the circular economy, and climate protection with its expertise. Whether versatile bio-based and biodegradable plastics, high-performance lightweight materials in large-scale production, reliable solar modules for extreme climatic conditions, green hydrogen for the low-emission production of basic chemicals and fuels or defect-free electronic components for the mobility of the future - for these and other questions the Fraunhofer IMWS is a sought-after and reliable partner for industry and society.

Meanwhile the Fraunhofer IMWS has also made a name for itself beyond the borders of Saxony-Anhalt and Germany. The institute can look back on many years of cooperation with leading companies as well as renowned research institutions at national and international level. At regional level, the Fraunhofer IMWS promotes the competitiveness and innovative capacity of local companies. In the international research landscape, it enjoys a high reputation, not least due to the international conferences regularly held in Halle (Saale), such as the "CAM Workshop" for failure diagnostics in electronics, the "PV Days" in the field of photovoltaics or the "Composite Sandwich Conference" in the field of lightweight plastics construction, and thereby also contributes to the attractiveness of Halle (Saale) as a science location.

Prof. Armin Willingmann stated: "As a driver of innovation, the Fraunhofer IMWS has had a lasting impact on the economic development in Saxony-Anhalt and continues to do so. With its application-oriented research, often also in cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises from the region, the institute has made an important contribution to the technological development of solutions for key issues of the future in the past years and decades. With a view to the great challenges of the coming years, I am convinced that the institute under its new, internationally experienced management will be no less formative for the development in the country. The IMWS is a shining example of excellent networking between science and industry."

Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft said: "With its focus on materials science and engineering, the Fraunhofer IMWS is an established and valued partner in the further development of numerous strategically important industries, such as photovoltaics, energy technology, automotive engineering, or the chemical industry. By developing solutions to increase material efficiency and cost-effectiveness as well as to conserve resources, Fraunhofer researchers from Halle (Saale) make a significant contribution to answering key questions of the future. Through industry-oriented research and development work and the successful transfer of knowledge and technology, the institute supports the increase in competitiveness and innovative capacity of local companies, promotes the diversification of the economy and the establishment of sustainable value chains in the region, and thus makes an important contribution to successful structural change in Saxony-Anhalt."

"We can look back on a constant and successful development of business areas, which has always been at the vanguard of technological research. We want to continue this course and face the challenges of the future. With a view to tomorrow's markets and requirements, we will continue to drive forward our research on such future topics as the bioeconomy, resource efficiency, the climate and hydrogen technologies in the coming years", said Professor Erica Lilleodden, who heads the Fraunhofer IMWS since 2022.

The keynote speeches given by Dr. Robert Chau, Director of Intel Europe Research and Intel Senior Fellow, Intel Corporation (USA) and Berthold Hellenthal, Head of the "Kompetenzzentrum Robust Design" of AUDI AG, emphasized the role of Fraunhofer IMWS for its partners in industry and research and development.

Robert Chau: "On the basis of the existing cooperation with the Fraunhofer IMWS, we would like to advance European research and development together with Fraunhofer in the field of microelectronics by developing new concepts. Innovative metrology and methods of error diagnostics will be the focus of the cooperation with Fraunhofer in Halle (Saale)."

Berthold Hellenthal stated: "The use of sustainably produced materials in cars is one of the most important future issues for vehicle manufacturers. Of utmost importance with respect to research and development is electronics, which we regard as a key technology for the electrification of the drive, for smart driver assistance and communication systems. In these areas, we are also counting on further fruitful cooperation with the Fraunhofer IMWS in Halle (Saale), an international leader in the field of fault diagnostics and materials analysis."