Prof. Dr. Eckhard Beyer: Application-oriented research for organizations in the region

In 1992, when several research institutions and establishments of the new federal states were absorbed into the Fraunhofer Gesell­­schaft (an organization for applied research), a golden opportunity presented itself in Dres­­den to continue and develop parts of the exceptional application-oriented re­­search. In the meantime, Dresden has become the undercover Fraunhofer capital in Ger­­many, with a total of six institutes and five other establishments. Thanks to efficient in­­­fra­­struc­­ture and modern sys­­tems engineering, the Dres­­den institutions earn an an­­n­­ual turnover of more than 100 million euros, and further growth is aimed at for the next few years.


The Fraunhofer Institutes in Dres­­­den develop products and processes right up to industrial application. In the process, individual solutions are constructed in direct contact with the client. Depend­ing on requirements, several Fraun­hofer in­­sti­­­tutions work to­­gether to also provide complex solutions. The results are made a­­­vailable to the industry in the form of patents, licenses, further education offers and primarily in the form of contract re­­search projects. In this way, the or­­ga­­ni­zations of numerous industries profit from the scientific-technical competence of the Fraun­ho­­fer institutions.

The Fraunhofer In­­s­ti­­­tu­­te Centre Dresden in Winter­berg­straße is the second largest Fraunhofer location in Germany and the largest in the new federal states. Three Fraunhofer institutes and one member-institution operate technical, laboratory and of­­fice space of around 26,000 square metres. The institutions have research and development in the area of material and energy technology in common.

The Fraunhofer IWS, for instance, develops plasma sources which operate with atmospheric pressure and are thus particularly suited to the cost-effective pro­­duction of solar cells. An equally promising approach to cost reduction is the in-line production of silicon-ba­sed thin film solar cells in a vacuum process. Here the PVD (physical vapor de­­posi­­tions coating) technologies devel­­oped by the Fraunhofer FEP (Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology) anticipate a notable re­­duc­­­­tion of surface coating costs. Al­­ready today, several in-line-capable vacuum tech­nologies for the production of thin film solar cells are available and industrially implemented, for example pretreatment in vacuums and technologies for the deposition of insulation and barrier co­­atings, metallic contacts, transparent electrodes or anti-reflex and protective coatings.



As a contactless and well-automated tool, the laser also offers optimization potential in solar cell production. Tech­nology development for the edge trimming and edge insulation of mono-crys­talline and multi-crystalline solar cells, for the production of contact drills and conducting paths, for the structuring of surfaces and for the improvement of solar radiation absorption as well as for the bonding of solar cells by stringers to solar panels, are therefore development focal points of the Fraunhofer IWS. And laser-beam hardening, which was patented by the scientists of the institute, has for many years found application in the field of classical po­­w­­er plant engineering for the improvement of efficiency and stability of rotor blades for steam turbines.
The scientists of the Fraunhofer IKTS (Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Tech­no­logies and Systems), together with industry partners, have developed a tech­­nology that makes fuel cells cheaper and durable. They are suitable as mo­­bile power generators for camping vehicles, boats, freight vehicles or mo­­tor cars, but also in stationary ap­­plications for the recovery of energy, heat and coolness or for the conversion of biogas into electricity in agriculture. A facility for the provision of electricity and heat on the basis of re­­newable raw materials is being designed and built within the framework of a research pro­ject for regenerative energy production.
At the Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden (Fraun­hofer Institute for Manufacturing and Advanced Materials), sinter materials, which are based on metals, composite and gradient materials for thermal man­­age­ment in electronics as well as for thermoelectric materials, friction materials and light metals are being de­­­veloped according to the application and ad­­vancement of powder metallurgical technologies. The cellular metallic ma­­terials of the Fraun­­­hofer IFAM are characterized by very low density, ex­­cellent acoustic ab­­sorption, good thermal insulation ability and a relatively high specific surface area.
The three large topics “traffic – energy – environment” also characte­­rize the profile of the Fraunhofer IVI (Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infra­structure Systems). Whether in large na­­tional research projects for hybrid or complete emission-free driving techno­­logy or in European projects for the de­­­­velopment of reliable fuel cell en­­gines – the Fraunhofer IVI is continually aware of its responsibility towards the accomplishment of current and future tasks.



A further technology field of the Dres­den Fraunhofer Institutes is microelectronics. The Fraunhofer IPMS (Fraun­ho­­­fer Institute for Photonic Micro­­sy­­s­­tems) range is directed at clients who wish to enhance the functionality of their products through the application of organic light-emitting diodes and mi­­cro­­systems with innovative system prop­­erties and ever-decreasing dimensions. The focal point lies in the most diverse ap­­plications that find their way into information technology, medical engineering, environmental technology, safety engineering or the automotive supply in­­dustry, thus in almost all areas of life.

The Fraunhofer CNT (Fraunhofer Centre for Nanoelectronic Technologies), which was founded as a public-private partnership between the Fraunhofer Gesell­­schaft, AMD Inc. (Advanced Micro Devices In­­cor­­­porated) and the Quimonda AG, in the immediate proximity of the semiconduc­tor producers, does research on further development in the areas: new materials, innovative processing technology as well as metrology and chemical analysis at atomic level. The most modern equipment allows for wafer processing with new and established methods as well as the testing of innovative material combinations.
The computer-based design of electronic connectors has already been the object of scientific work in Dresden for almost 50 years. Today, the EAS sec­­tion (design automation) of the Fraun­ho­fer IIS (Fraunhofer Institute for In­­te­gra­t­­ed Circuits) develops internationally recognized processes for computer-based design of electronic and in­­creasingly of heterogeneous systems.



A profile-determining attribute of the Fraunhofer IZFP (Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing) is the de­­velopment of systems for equipment con­dition monitoring for clients in the aerospace, environmental engineering and chemical industries. In industry, the results based on acoustic and optical technologies are deployed in all instances where safety-related evidence and quality verification is re­­quired.
The development of intelligent production facilities, combined with the optimization of production processes re­­lat­ing to this, constitutes the research focus of the Fraunhofer IWU (Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Tech­nol­­ogy). At the Dresden location, highly in­­tegrated intelligent systems for machine and vehicle construction are developed on the basis of “smart materials”. The centre stage is taken by active components and multifunctional materials as well as the acoustic analysis for machine construction and vehicle technology.

When the complex interaction between filling, packaging and machinery taking place in the packaging processes is considered in its entirety, the Fraunhofer AVV (Fraunhofer Applica­tion Center for Processing Machinery and Packaging Technology) is an effective and qualified service provider for in­­dustrial re­­search and development work.

The eleven Fraunhofer institutions to­­gether employ more than 1,100 people. The annual prize awarded by the Fraun­hofer Gesellschaft for the conversion of outstanding scientific performance into industrial use, has been awarded to Dresden institutes eight times al­­ready since 1992, a demonstration of the innovative energy of the Dresden Fraun­hofer researchers.


ProfThe author was born in 1951. After di­­ploma and doctorate in physics at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sci­­ences, he first worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for La­­ser Tech­nology (ILT) in Aachen for twelve years. Since 1997 he has been the head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Tech­nology (IWS) and will be acting as the spokesperson for the Fraunhofer Insti­tution Centre in Dresden as from 2009.