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WACKER Honors Chemist for Production of Precision Silicone Films

Munich, Jul 17, 2015

WACKER, the Munich-based chemical group, presented Dr. Andreas Köllnberger with the 2015 Alexander Wacker Innovation Award yesterday. The 41-year-old chemist had developed a process for producing ultrathin silicone films. As thin as 10 micrometers, the precision films are very versatile. Due to their dielectric properties, they are ideal for use in electronics, robotics, sensor systems and medical technology, and enable the development of innovative products. The award ceremony took place during the Group’s annual research symposium at its plant in Burghausen, Germany.

Innovationspreis 2015 - Dr. Köllnberger
Auguste Willems (left) of WACKER’s Executive Board with Dr. Andreas Köllnberger, the winner of this year’s Alexander Wacker Innovation Award.

This year was the fourth time that the €10,000 innovation award had been presented for product innovation. Dr. Köllnberger and his team developed a process to produce silicone films that are only 10 to 400 micrometers thick. The high-precision films are extremely uniform, their thickness not varying by more than five percent over their entire area. The production process is fully automated and takes place in a closed system under cleanroom conditions. For the first time, it is possible to produce silicone film of very high quality and purity as roll stock on an industrial scale.

Due to their wide-ranging properties, silicone films are suitable for numerous industrial applications. Since silicone is selectively permeable to gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, silicone films are ideal for gas separation and for producing wound dressings. Moreover, silicone films are of interest for developing novel sensors and actuators. Due to their dielectric properties, they can be used as electroactive polymers in intelligent sensors, artificial muscles, energy-saving electrical relays and valves, and in the generation of electricity.

“Few companies have influenced silicon and silicone chemistry from the outset as much as WACKER,” said Executive Board member Auguste Willems in his speech at the award ceremony in Burghausen. “Our portfolio of silicones has grown to include thousands of products. The outstanding work of Dr. Köllnberger and his team has now added another highly promising product.”

Willems handed over the award during the 43rd R&D symposium, which, as in previous years, was held at WACKER’s main plant in Burghausen, Germany. The 2015 Alexander Wacker Innovation Award attracted entries from 48 employees, including from sites in China, India, Japan and the USA. Examples of the product innovations submitted ranged from a terpolymer for formulating low-emission tile adhesives through to new polyvinyl acetate solid resins for gumbase and a silicone fluid emulsion developed specifically for Asian hair-care products. “This year, the standard was again extremely high,” said Willems. “All submitted product innovations are very promising, with strong profits likely.”

About the Alexander Wacker Innovation Award

Since 2005, the Munich-based chemical company has honored employees’ outstanding R&D work at its annual research symposium. Named after the company’s founder, the €10,000 “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” rotates between the categories of product innovation, process innovation and basic research. Next year, the groupwide research competition will focus on process innovation.

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