WACKER and The Technical University of Munich Inaugurate an Institute of Silicon Chemistry at the Garching Research Center

04 Jul 2008 • by Natalie Aster

MUNICH -- WACKER, The Munich-based chemical company, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) officially opened an Institute of Silicon Chemistry in Garching, near Munich, this Wednesday evening. The institute is part of the WACKER Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry. The 500m2 laboratory wing provides ideal working conditions for interdisciplinary research into macromolecular organosilicon compounds. The Munich-based chemical company has endowed the WACKER Chair and the Institute of Silicon Chemistry with some €6 million.

WACKER and TUM signed an agreement back in late 2006 to set up and endow a Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry and an Institute of Silicon Chemistry to conduct research into, and establish, new operating areas and applications in organosilicon chemistry. The chair insignias were officially presented to Prof. Bernhard Rieger, holder of the WACKER Chair, in summer 2007. "This inauguration at the TUM chemistry department is an historic event for silicon research," said TUM President Prof. Wolfgang Herrmann during a ceremony at the Garching Research Center. "Many German companies derive their sales primarily from international markets. But we don't want research to relocate to these markets. This new institute means that Germany's silicon research has gained a vital, trailblazing pillar," added Herrmann.

Equipped with state-of-the-art lab facilities, the 500m2 institute provides ideal research conditions. What's more, there are imminent plans to obtain a high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). This kind of microscope makes it possible to examine the deep structure of materials, thus permitting the characterization of a wide variety of substances. "Highly gifted researchers from a truly broad array of scientific backgrounds work together in a single institute here in Garching. This is a ground-breaking development," commented Prof. Rieger during the inaugural ceremony. "The institute is more than the sum of its parts because it provides an interdisciplinary forum and thus an opportunity to develop new ideas and operating areas."

Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, President & CEO of Wacker Chemie AG, emphasized the institute's tremendous importance to the company's research work. "Macromolecular silicon chemistry in particular - with its multifaceted nature and numerous unanswered questions - is a promising research field for establishing new operating areas and applications. So, we needed to concentrate our research efforts in collaboration with a top university such as the Technical University of Munich," said Staudigl. The new institute is a major milestone that further strengthens WACKER's leadership in silicon chemistry, continued Staudigl. "Silicon and silicone chemistry accounts for some 80 percent of our sales and is therefore of huge economic importance to us. The silicon institute helps us to further extend our technological leadership in this area."

Institute of Silicon Chemistry

The Institute of Silicon Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich was founded in July 2007. It is headed by Prof. Bernhard Rieger, one of the world's most prominent experts in macromolecular chemistry. WACKER is funding the new institute for at least six years and will also help finance the WACKER Chair. The company is earmarking €6 million for this purpose. These funds will finance research projects and scholarships, as well as project and research-related procurement. Potential beneficiaries of scholarships include some 50 doctoral candidates.

The institute will concentrate on research fields such as organofunctional silicon compounds and silicones, with their partially unexplained structure-effect relationships. Funding will primarily target interdisciplinary research at the crossroads between physics, biotechnology and the material sciences. The institute has a steering committee comprising scientists from WACKER and the TUM, its two partners.

Source: WACKER