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Wacker Chemie AG has honored Dr. Volker Stanjek, Dr. Wilfram Schindler and Dr. Thomas Kammerl with this year’s “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” for their pioneering work in organofunctional silanes and the development of silane-curing polymers. The researchers discovered that by changing certain structural elements they could accelerate the chemical reactivity of silanes by a factor of 100 to 1,000. Highly reactive alpha-silanes enable the production of rapid-curing adhesives and sealants, isocyanate-free construction and installation foams, scratchproof coatings, abrasion-resistant composites, and extremely low-tin silicone sealants. This year’s €10,000 innovation award focused on basic research.

WACKER’s chemists studied the so-called “alpha effect” - a phenomenon known for some time. In the 1960s, scientists discovered that substitution of certain structural elements led to higher organofunctional-silane reactivity. This discovery, however, was gradually forgotten. “The key innovative power of this proposal is not so much observation of the alpha effect itself, but rather recognizing that a fundamental phenomenon has been discovered that is highly interesting for both scientific and business reasons,” said WACKER president and CEO Dr. Rudolf Staudigl during the award ceremony. According to the Munich, Germany-based company’s estimates, the long-term market potential of alpha silanes - marketed under the GENIOSIL® trademark since 2003 - could be in the hundreds of millions.

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