Foundation of new Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS


(October 15, 2015) The Halle (Saale) branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM will become an independent Fraunhofer Institute on 1 January 2016 following a decision made by the Senate of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on 7 October 2015. More than 200 employees will conduct research at Halle at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. The Freiburg branch of the Institute will continue to operate as the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.

© Photo S.K.U.B. Freiburg

Professor Ralf Wehrspohn (right) will lead the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS in Halle from January onwards. Professor Peter Gumbsch (left) continues to manage the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg.

Reliable microelectronics, light car body panels, versatile renewable raw materials, high-performance solar modules for extreme climates - all these require tailor-made material solutions. The new Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS offers microstructure-based technology development and diagnostics for such materials, components and systems. The scientists at Halle will identify weak spots at the micro and nano level, explain how they have arisen and offer clients innovative solutions based on those findings. Attention will also be focused on microstructural design – the development of durable and highly efficient materials, based on the knowledge gained about their microstructure.

"We can tailor materials, components and systems to meet clients' requirements right at the development phase. This not only increases competiveness but also makes a major contribution to material efficiency and the conservation of resources", said Professor Ralf Wehrspohn, director of the Halle branch of the institute and of the future Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. The Fraunhofer IMWS will be the first independent Fraunhofer Institute in Halle (Saale) and the second in Saxony-Anhalt. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will comprise a total of 67 institutes throughout Germany from 2016.

© Photo S.K.U.B. Freiburg

Professor Peter Gumbsch

"Separating the Fraunhofer IMWS from the Fraunhofer IWM was not a straightforward matter for the executive board and is proof of the institutes’ success. The deciding factor in establishing an independent Fraunhofer IMWS in Halle was the growth of the research and development activities in both institutes", said Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Against the background of the increasing demand for resources, tailor-made materials, intelligent solutions and efficient processes are becoming ever more important. The institutes in Halle and Freiburg are making an important contribution here in driving forward innovative ideas and increasing industrial value creation in Germany and Europe. Their clearly differentiated profiles enable both institutes to react even more quickly to these challenges and to provide fresh impetus, drawing on their high levels of expertise and supported by their customer relationships extending over many years.

"Thanks to our successful collaboration of more than 20 years both branches of the institute will be able to act independently," said Professor Peter Gumbsch, director of the Fraunhofer IWM in Freiburg. "Both institutes will profit over the long term from the amicable separation as well as from further collaborations in special areas such as composite materials."

© Photo Achim Käflein Freiburg

Professor Ralf Wehrspohn

Wehrspohn too emphasised the excellent development perspectives for both locations: "Two powerful institutes have been founded that can position themselves even more effectively on the research market thanks to their own particular expertise. In addition, there will be a reduction in expenditure on coordination and harmonisation, meaning shorter decision making processes, savings in time and more clout."

The Halle branch of the institute, whose precursor was the institute of Solid State Physics and Electron Microscopy of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR, has since 1992 been part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials, which was founded in 1971 in Freiburg. The institute conducts applied research in the field of material efficiency and is a major driving force, innovator and problem solver for the industry and public service clients in the fields of reliability, safety, service life and functionality of materials used in components and systems.

The Fraunhofer IWM had a budget of 37.3 million euros in 2014, 19.4 million euros of which were allotted to the Freiburg branch of the institute and 17.9 million euros to the Halle branch of the institute. The institute has 441 employees, 247 of whom are employed in Freiburg and 194 in Halle.


Thomas Götz
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