Research and Development

WACKER focuses its R&D efforts on finding solutions for customers and for serving such global megatrends as: rising energy needs, climate change, ever-scarcer raw materials, urbanization, digitization and preventive healthcare.

WACKER is one of the most research-intensive chemical companies in the world. At €164.0 million, 2009’s R&D expenditures reached the prior-year level (2008: €163.2 million). They were not cut despite the decline in sales. The R&D quota (research and development spending as a percentage of Group sales) rose – because of the sales decline – to 4.4% (2008: 3.8%). WACKER invested €10.2 million in R&D facilities in 2009 (2008: €15.3 million). We took in €3.4 million from licensing agreements (2008: €2.7 million).

WACKER’s innovative strength is reflected in the number of patents held and patent applications submitted. In 2009, we filed for patents for 150 inventions (2008: 119) and had an external-company innovation in-licensed. Our patent portfolio contains 4,355 patents.

R&D Costs R&D Costs (bar chart)

WACKER conducts R&D at two levels – decentrally within our five divisions and centrally at our “Consortium für elektrochemische Industrie” research institute. Corporate R&D is responsible for coordinating divisional research activities with the basic-research projects at our central “Consortium” science campus. In 2009, Corporate R&D set up a Group portfolio-management function to ensure that research projects are even more effectively aligned with the Group’s strategic orientation.

WACKER scientists are currently working on around 200 topics based on 40 technology platforms. A quarter of these topics are key strategic projects, which account for 34% of all project costs incurred.

Our divisions conduct application-driven R&D, focusing on semiconductor technology, silicone and polymer chemistry, and biotechnology, as well as on innovative processes for producing polycrystalline silicon. To achieve successful research results more quickly and efficiently, we collaborate with customers, scientific institutes and universities. WACKER has also created a network of 20 technical competence centers worldwide. They liaise between sales offices and local production sites. At these centers, WACKER specialists customize products to regional requirements, taking account of climatic conditions, national standards and local raw materials, for example.

Research Work at WACKER Research Work at WACKER (graphics)

As the center of WACKER’s R&D activities, the Consortium has the task of researching scientific correlations to develop new products and processes efficiently. Another Consortium task is to harness and develop new business fields that complement the Group’s core competencies.

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Consortium Employees by Qualification









Scientists and engineers



Lab staff and technicians



Other personnel






WACKER operates in the highly promising fields of biotechnology, energy and construction. In biotechnology, our scientists are developing new processes to produce ethylene and acetic acid economically from renewable resources. Acetic acid and ethylene are base chemicals for vinyl acetate. WACKER POLYMERS processes this substance into dispersible polymer powders and polymeric binders. In 2009, we were able to manufacture industrial quantities of acetic acid from bioethanol via a highly selective process. In another project, we are working on producing acetic acid and ethylene from biomass (e.g. straw). This project is supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research as part of a nationwide “Bioindustrie 2021” program.

WACKER SILICONES and WACKER POLYMERS were able to significantly boost the selectivity and efficiency of production processes with new catalysts. In 2009, we launched a series of new products on the market. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) represent the future of lighting. Despite high luminosity, they consume just a tiny fraction of the energy required by incandescent and energy-saving light bulbs. As LEDs become more powerful, the materials used – e.g. for lenses – must meet new challenges. The materials used up to now can turn yellow under intense light. The high-performance LEDs of the future will, therefore, primarily be made with heat- and light-resistant silicones. Our new LUMISIL® silicones enable optical lenses for LEDs to be produced for the first time directly on the light-emitting diode chip. We honored the developer of this innovation with the 2009 Alexander Wacker Innovation Award.

Heat-Resistant Silicones Allow Optical Lenses for LEDs to Be Produced Directly on LED Chips

In photovoltaics, we are strengthening our technological lead as a polysilicon producer. Beside erecting new production facilities, WACKER POLYSILICON focused on enhancing its existing processes in 2009. As ever, the goal is to maximize silicon purity at the lowest-possible cost.

Since 2009, WACKER has been supplying a new encapsulation material for the production of photovoltaic modules. Our TECTOSIL® silicone-based elastic polymer film optimally protects solar cells against mechanical and chemical stress. Because it is thermoplastic, the polymer can be processed quickly and inexpensively without the need for chemical reactions. This cuts cycle times and thus production costs.

Elastic Polymer Film Protects Solar Cells against Mechanical and Chemical Stress

Together with customers in China, WACKER POLYMERS was able to develop a vinyl acetate/ethylene dispersion for low-odor and environmentally-compatible interior paints. It was launched on the market as VINNAPAS® EF 718.

Leading semiconductor manufacturers continue to miniaturize components for microprocessors, data storage modules and digital signal processors. Siltronic has started to produce 300 mm silicon wafers for chip generations with design rules of 32 nanometers. It has also developed silicon wafers for devices with 22 nm design rules. Work on the next-generation devices with design rules of 16 nm has already commenced.

WACKER fosters the development of young scientific talent and close contacts with universities. In 2009, we enlisted students from over 30 universities to write final-year projects and theses. Additionally, only three years after the Institute of Silicon Chemistry was founded at the Technical University of Munich, students are currently writing some 20 dissertations on silicon chemistry.

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Key Product Launches in 2009



















ELASTOSIL® Solar 2120 UV



UV-active silicone elastomers


Encapsulation of electrical junction boxes (solar modules)


Solar and electronics

ELASTOSIL® Solar 3210



Two-component silicone elastomers


Optical elements for photovoltaic-cell concentrators


Solar and electronics




Polymeric binders


Modification of shotcrete; better adhesion, waterproof, reduced rebound


Mining and tunnelconstruction, road and special civil engineering




Self-leveling, silane-crosslinking hybrid formulations


Highly-elastic sealing membranes


Construction sealants




UV-active silicone elastomers


Production of optical lenses for light-emitting diodes (LEDs)






High-purity silicone elastomers


Applications in medical technology, orthopedics and wound care






Alkoxy-functional silicone resin intermediates


Improved weather-resistance of organo-polymers


Paints and surface coatings




Water-based silicone resin emulsions


Heat-resistant coatings for kitchen appliances, grills and exhaust systems


Paints and surface coatings




Thermoplastic silicone film


Encapsulation of photovoltaic modules






Aqueous VAE dispersions


Binders for low-odor wall paints for the Chinese market


Paints and surface coatings




Environmentally friendly PVAc dispersions


Formulation of waterproof and discoloration-free wood glues


Woodworking, flooring