Cooperation with Fraunhofer

Cooperation with Fraunhofer

Within the framework of the Pact for Research and Innovation, the Max Planck Society and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft intend to continue and intensify their cooperation across research areas and disciplines. With its focus centred on application, the collaboration with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is of particular interest to the Max Planck Society. Against this background, the two organizations have been engaged in talks since spring 2004 in order to identify and support collaboration opportunities at the interface of application oriented research and basic research. This includes meanwhile the fields of computer science, materials science / nanotechnology and biotechnology, as well as the area of regenerative energies and photonics. The aim of such a venture is to bring to application the knowledge resulting from collaborative efforts, thereby making a direct contribution to the development of new technologies.

DIVE SPOT – Investigation on desorption by impulsive vibrational excitation scaling potential in biological tissue with 3 µm picosecond laser radiation

The aim of the DIVE SPOT project is to develop a laser scalpel that allows surgeons to work on individual cells precisely but quickly and with no scarring. The pico infrared laser (PIRL) developed by Max Planck researchers is already able to cut tissue with extreme precision and without leaving unwanted permanent traces. Although the cells in the focus of the laser are catapulted explosively from the incision, the surrounding tissue does not heat up appreciably. By contrast, conventional laser scalpels always leave a 100-micrometer-wide zone of damaged tissue on either side of the incision; however, surgeons can cut much faster with conventional scalpels than with the less powerful PIRL scalpel. The DIVE SPOT researchers hope to remedy this situation by developing a device to amplify light from the PIRL while ensuring that the nontraumatic cutting characteristics of the scalpel are maintained. They have already identified chromium-doped zinc selenide as a candidate material for the amplifier. It has thus far been difficult to design an amplifier for laser light, as the amplification process causes the device to heat up. This problem could be overcome by an amplifier design developed by Fraunhofer researchers. To this effect, the physicists hope to help doctors perform especially gentle surgery in many areas of routine clinical practice.

Participating institutes:
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT)
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter

Duration: 2017 - 2020

CoAvatar – Collaborative spatial problem-solving

In future, teamwork will also be possible in the virtual world, for example in car manufacturing. Vehicle developers often come together to discuss how the engine, electronic components and storage space need to be arranged in a car. In the CoAvatar project, researchers are developing a software program that allows them to try out virtual models immediately. Special emphasis is placed on the question of what view each team member should see in their display (HMD for head-mounted display) to enable them to arrange the elements most sensibly. Should all the developers be presented with the same view, or is it better if they all have different viewing angles, as with a real model? A second CoAvatar project is addressing similar questions. The researchers want to find out how rescue team members can be most effectively supported by augmented reality as they sweep through a smoke-filled building searching for victims for example. Is it sufficient to show a compass in the display of the firefighters’ goggles? Or should they also see floorplans of the building, perhaps even the current locations of their colleagues? To support rescue workers and car manufacturers as efficiently as possible, the scientists are studying the underlying processes by which people solve spatial problems, such as searching or configuring. Drawing on the knowledge they gain, they aim to make teamwork in virtual space as effective as possible.

Participating institutes:
Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO)
Max Planck Institut for Biological Cybernetics

Duration: 2017 - 2021

COMPASS- Combined Printing, Imaging and Pharmacological Screening of Cultured Bone Marrow Hemospheres

The main aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of the function of bone marrow in relation to the production of haematopoietic stem cells. Secondly, it is planned to develop a robust biological testing system, which can be used to define the environment of the stem cells. On the completion of the project, an in-vitro assay should be available that is of considerable interest to the pharmaceutical sector. In terms of an application example, our interest is focused on leukemia as the stem cells and their precursors are very well established in bone-marrow transplants.

Participating institutes:
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine

Duration: 2011 - 2014


The aim is to develop an early test for dyslexia, to allow timely treatment and promotion.

Participating institutes:
Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

Duration: 2012 - 2015

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: 2013 - 2015

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
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Duration: 2013 - 2015

Heterogeneous catalysis – the production of base chemicals and fuels from renewable resources using the example of dimethyl ether

Catalysis plays a key role in the manufacture of chemical products. Catalytic processes will become even more important given the rising price and shortage of oil which is to be expected. One way to achieve society’s aim of reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is to convert biomass into so-called synthesis gas, which can then be converted into a number of different chemical base materials with the aid of catalytic processes. The concrete objective of this research project is the development of a new, continuous catalytic process which produces the very versatile product dimethyl ether (DME) from synthesis gas originally generated from biomass. DME can be used as fuel or as the base chemical in synthesis routes which have previously been based on oil. The catalytic process will allow single-stage direct synthesis and be able to be coupled to biomass gasification.

Participating institutes:
Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology
MPI für Kohlenforschung (coal research)

Duration: 2011 - 2014

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