HistoryThe Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC

Glass, ceramics, building materials – those were the core topics of research and development 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 focus not only on the classic functional and structural materials of glass and ceramics, but even more so on silicon-based inorganic-organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®s) and active or adaptive materials. An increasingly important role is occupied by the manufacturing and processing of the materials at the institute itself under realistic production conditions – a tremendous challenge for a research institute.

Facts and figures about the institute

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. October 1943 Wartime relocation to Lower Franconia and the Rhoen, made possible by the generous cooperation of the local and regional authorities.

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 Ormocers – 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 goods.


Pilot Plant II is built, specializing in new technologies for the development of ceramics and Ormocers, 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 trade mark.

The polymer synthesis pilot plant for producing the precursors of high-temperature stable ceramic fibers 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.

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

Rebuilding of the coaching house of the Bronnbach Abbey by the Main-Tauber regional administration. Usage as test center by Fraunhofer ISC for special plant and equipment


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