Cooperation with the Max Planck Society

By continuing the »Pact for Research and Innovation«, the participating research organizations have renewed their commitment to the government to take further steps to enhance Germany’s status as a leading scientific nation. One of these measures aims to bridge the gap between basic and applied research by improving cooperation between the institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and those of the Max Planck Society. Since the initiative was launched, a whole series of research projects have been evaluated and approved by internal and independent experts.

Current cooperation and partners:



Current cooperations and partners:

Dendro refining: A new approach to the material and energy use of lignin


Burning biomass is wasteful. After all, it contains complex organic compounds processed by nature which are suitable for use as raw material for plastics and biofuels, for example. Recovering these substances from lignin is the aim of the Dendro Refining Project, which involves the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. Lignin is an important component of biomass that arises in large quantities in the production of bioethanol and in the paper industry, and has been mostly incinerated up to now. The researchers working on this cooperative project are investigating catalytic processes for splitting the biopolymer lignin into its chemical components using hydrogen. These components can be used directly in the chemicals industry. Furthermore, hydrogen and hydrocarbons can be generated from them as fuels - the scientists working on the Dendro Refining Project are also developing catalysts and chemical processes for this application. The hydrogen produced in this way, which was thus far largely produced from natural gas or oil, will be used to split lignin in a sustainable way.

Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
Duration: 2012 – 2016

Real-time imaging - Magnetic resonance imaging and its application in cardiac function diagnosis


When scans are performed by means of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – also known as magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) – the patient has to remain completely immobile for several seconds or longer. In the case of cardiac scans, this means that the MRI scanner has to be synchronized with an ECG machine to ensure that the heart rate is regular. This usually involves repeatedly asking the patient to hold their breath. Max Planck scientists have now developed a technique that enables MRI scans to be performed in real time. This allows them to capture a continuous sequence of tomographic images (an MRI video) at a high temporal resolution (30 images per second). Because this technique is especially suited to the analysis of cardiac and vascular functions, the Max Planck scientists wish to develop it further for this specific application in collaboration with Fraunhofer researchers and to combine it with appropriate image analysis methods so as to enable its use in clinical medicine. To do so, the partner institutes are working together with a leading manufacturer of MRI scanners.

Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS
Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
Duration: 2012 – 2014

InitialWear – Early detection of material wear in high-precision machine tools

One of the most important goals when optimizing modern manufacturing processes is to prevent wear to the machining tools. Thermochemical wear mechanisms are the most frequently encountered phenomena in material forming and cutting, the two most common machining processes. The first aim of the InitialWear project is to investigate the wear mechanisms acting on precision tools such as those used to press blanks for the manufacture of high-precision glass lenses. The results will then be used to develop a tool-life prediction model that can be translated into new processes and wear-protection strategies. With a better understanding of the early stages of crack formation in press-brake tools, it will be possible to take effective measures to prolong tool life in a way that is applicable to an entire class of materials. Manufacturers will then be in a position to significantly reduce production costs and gain a distinct competitive advantage.


Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT
Max Planck Institute for Iron Research
Duration: 2014 – 2016

LEGASCREEN - early test for dyslexia

The aim of this project

is to develop a test to detect dyslexia early on, which will enable dyslexic children to start therapy in good time. Most of the diagnostic methods used today rely on an analysis of reading and writing difficulties, which means that they cannot be applied to the pre-school age group, i.e. children who have not yet been taught to read and write. As a result, such screening tests are not normally carried out before the end of the second year of schooling.

Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Duration: 2012 – 2015

MEGAS - Attosecond pulses at megahertz repetition rates for ultra-high-speed photoelectron microscopy and spectrometry


The aim of the Megas project is to develop a high-brightness pulsed light source delivering attosecond pulses in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range. This project involves work on high-power fiber lasers, enhancement resonators for high harmonic generation, and low-loss coupling devices for signal output. A photoelectron microscope or spectroscope equipped with this type of laser source will be able to deliver images with a temporal resolution in the attosecond range. This means the findings of this research could help to provide a basis for further advances in the field of electronics, where there is a demand for increasingly miniaturized structures and faster switching processes. The ability to test and control these processes in four dimensions with the necessary spatial, temporal and energy resolution (4D) would have an inestimable impact on related work being conducted by numerous research laboratories throughout the world.

Participating institutes: 

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Duration: 2014-2016

MEP Pathways as a platform for isoprenoid formation


Isoprenoids are the largest and most varied class of chemical substances synthesised in living organisms. They have wide-ranging functions particularly in plants, for example as phytohormones and during photosynthesis. They also have numerous possible applications in industry and pharmaceutics. However, up to now it has been virtually impossible to manufacture isoprenoids industrially, and plants and bacteria usually only produce them in very small quantities. This imposes severe limitations on their use in practical applications. Nature uses two biosynthesis routes for producing isoprenoids. Both make use of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate as starting materials. While the long-known mevalonate pathway is well understood, the methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway (“MEP pathway”) was only recently discovered. As part of this project, the researchers aim to attain a quantitative and in-depth understanding of this synthesis pathway. This new understanding should enable the development of improved metabolic engineering strategies and in this way help to optimise the biosynthesis of particularly rare and valuable isoprenoids.

Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Duration: 2013 – 2015

HEUSLER - New magnetic materials without rare earth elements


High-performance hard magnetic materials are essential in all areas of our lives, including medical diagnostics, power generation, electromobility, and many consumer products such as cars. These applications currently make use of permanent magnets made of samarium-cobalt alloys, which require rare earth elements for their production. But the supply of rare earth elements is politically insecure, making it necessary to search for alternatives. Heusler compounds offer a possible solution. This project was launched to investigate ways of producing Heusler compounds with comparable magnetic properties to permanent magnets containing rare earth elements, while at the same time reducing material costs. These alternative materials offer a possible means by which many sectors of German industry could cement their leading role in the research and development of high-tech products.

Participating institutes:

Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids CPFS
Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics
Duration: 2014-2017