Glass, ceramics, building materials – those were the original R&D topics at the Institute for Silicate Research when it was first founded as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. But once it had been re-established as the Max-Planck Institute for Silicate Research after World War II, it was immediately geared towards the changing markets. This proximity to industry led to its being integrated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The continuous development of its research activities and range of materials are the key to today's success of the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC.

Meanwhile, the Institute’s research activities have enlarged their focus from the classic functional and structural materials of glass and ceramics towards silicon-based inorganic-organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®) and active or adaptive materials and the Institute has become one of the leading R&D centers for resource and energy efficiency in Bavaria. Another area of growing importance is the pilot plant scale manufacturing and processing of the materials at the Institute itself under realistic production conditions – a tremendous challenge for a research institute.

Find more about the Institute's history as a case study for R&D History in Germany in »Für Industrie und Wissenschaft – Weg eines Forschungsinstitutes von der Weimarer Republik ins 21. Jahrhundert« (155 S., available in german only).


Important dates in the Institute’s history

April 1, 1926

The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Silicate Research is founded in Berlin-Dahlem, initiated by the German Society of Glass and the German Ceramics Society (since 2013, a commemorative plaque marks the first institute building in Berlin-Dahlem, which now forms part of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft).

October 1943
Wartime relocation from Berlin to Northern Bavaria (Lower Franconia and the Rhoen).

April 1, 1948
The institute is re-established as Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Silicate Research. The state parliament decides to locate it in Würzburg.

November 14, 1952
The Institute at Neunerplatz 2 in Würzburg is ceremonially inaugurated in the presence of Professor Otto Hahn, then president of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

The new east wing, with a modern glass melting hall, becomes the Institute’s first extension.

November 11, 1971
The institute is taken over by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as the Institute for Silicate Research ISC.

A new class of materials is developed: organically modified silicates, a family of inorganic-organic hybrid polymers characterized by glass-, silicon- or duroplast-like properties depending on their composition. Known since 1988 as Ormocer – the coined word stands for »organically modified ceramics«.

The Pilot Plant I extension at Neunerplatz goes into operation.

The user center for coatings is inaugurated.

The Chair of Silicate Chemistry is endowed at the University of Würzburg.

Foundation of the Bronnbach branch office for the expert groups on the construction of special equipment and the conservation of cultural heritage.

Pilot Plant II is built, specializing in new technologies for the development of ceramics and Ormocer, incl. pilot plant facilities for spinning ceramic and hybrid polymer fibers, and cleanroom technology.

TOP Oberflächen GmbH is spun off.

ORMOCER® is registered as a trademark.

Founding of the Project Group Ceramic Composites in Bayreuth

The polymer synthesis pilot plant for producing the precursors of high-temperature stable ceramic fibers in Wuerzburg goes into operation.

Planning begins for Pilot Plant III, the next major extension to the Institute, to be used primarily for creating and developing processing technologies geared towards industrial standards.

Founding of the Center Smart Materials CeSMa and the International Convention Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation IZKK.

Rebuilding of the coach house of the Bronnbach Abbey by the Main-Tauber regional administration to be used by Fraunhofer ISC as a test center for special plant and equipment engineering.

Foundation of Fraunhofer Project Group for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS in Alzenau.

Transfer of the Project Group Ceramic Composites in Bayreuth to the Fraunhofer Center for High Temperature Materials and Design HTL.

Grand opening of the second site of the Fraunhofer Project Group for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies at Hanau in the state of Hesse.

Commissioning of the new pilot plant building Technikum III (designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, London, Hamburg) with another 2500 square meters of additional near-industry standard laboratory space. The new pilot plant building also features bio laboratories, a near GMP standard clean room, a modular coating plant for roll-to-roll coating under clean room conditions, EMC optimized space decoupled from the rest of building to house the high-resolution electron microscopy. As one of the first buildings of its kind in Germany, the construction of the Technikum III was supervised by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and awarded their preliminary bronze certificate.

Founding of the Fraunhofer Application Center for Resource Efficiency at the Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences.

Founding of the German Phosphorous Platform (Deutschen Phosphor-Plattform DPP) under the rooftop of the Fraunhofer Project Group for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS at Alzenau.

Founding of the Fraunhofer Application Center for Textile Fiber Ceramics TFK at the Hof University of Applied Sciences.

Spin-off of the Multiphon Optics GmbH - "Supplier for High-Precision 3D Printing Equipment and Software"

Inauguration of the new research building for the Fraunhofer-Center for High Temperature Materials and Design HTL

Merger of the two groups and sites of the Bavarian R&D Center for Electromobility FZEB under the rooftop of the Fraunhofer ISC in Würzburg, coupled with the confirmation of continued funding for future development by the Federal State of Bavaria.

On August 1, 2017, the Translation Center Würzburg of Fraunhofer IGB, Stuttgart, became part of the Fraunhofer ISC as Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies TLC-RT. The Fraunhofer Translational Center TLC-RT is working on new material-based forms of therapy that initiate the body's own healing processes. With the integration, the Health Division of the Fraunhofer ISC has been expanded in terms of both expertise and personnel.
Joint venture with Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT: Fraunhofer Project Center for Stem Cell Process Engineering SPT established

Opening of the fiber pilot plant of the Fraunhofer Center for High Temperature Lightweight Construction HTL.

Establishment of the Fraunhofer Project Group IWKS as an independent Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS.

Spin-off of CellCircle UG by Dr. Andreas Bittner - focus on efficient battery recycling and recovery of battery materials.

Opening and operational start-up of the new biomed research site in Würzburg at Röntgenring 12, after extensive renovation of the building of the former University Eye Hospital from 1901 by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for the Fraunhofer ISC. The second Würzburg site of the Fraunhofer ISC provides space for the Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies and the Center for Stem Cell Process Engineering.