Institute profile for the Fraunhofer IST

Electromobility, Industry 4.0, smart tools, individualized medicine, precision optics for space applications: At the Fraunhofer IST, we offer solutions for the most diverse industries.
© Fraunhofer IST

As an innovative and internationally recognized partner for research and development, the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST develops future-oriented products – including the associated competitive and scalable production systems.


Surface technology for future-oriented products and systems

Our research encompasses plant engineering, entire process chains of process engineering, process technology and manufacturing technology all the way through to the consideration of entire factories. Taking the requirements of sustainability as a starting point, we maintain an overview of the entire product life cycle – from the material, through the process of creating the component and product, and on to recycling. 


Tailor-made and sustainable: Our sector-based solutions

In interdisciplinary teams and based on our technology and competence fields, we offer our customers from industry and research tailored and sustainable solutions for various sectors, e. g. plant and mechanical engineering, tools, vehicle construction, aerospace, energy, optics, medical and pharmaceutical process engineering, environmental technology, chemistry, and the digital economy.  Drawing on a broad spectrum of expertise, technologies, processes and coating materials, we design the optimum process chain for the respective task, right through to the digital design of the entire factory.

A focus on our application fields and expertise

Currently, our experts are focusing their application-development expertise on the following areas:

  • Energy storage systems with focus on battery cell production and hydrogen technology
  • Sustainability management and life cycle engineering
  • Micro and sensor technology / Industry 4.0
  • Tribological systems
  • Precision optical coatings
  • Multifunctional surfaces for medical technology and pharmaceutical production
  • Flexible production systems
  • Cyber-physical systems and Computational Surface Engineering & Science

The IST has accumulated expertise in diverse technologies for the coating, treatment and structuring of surfaces. These include electrochemical processes, in particular electroplating, atmospheric pressure processes, low-pressure plasma processes with the main focus on magnetron sputtering, highly ionized plasmas and plasma-activated vapor deposition (PECVD), chemical vapor deposition with the main focus on hot-wire CVD, atomic layer deposition (ALD) as well as chemical, mechanical and thermal surface treatment.

Furthermore, the Fraunhofer IST not only has excellent capabilities in surface analysis and quality assurance using the very latest equipment but has also accumulated extensive experience in the modeling and simulation of both product properties and the associated processes and production systems. Further competences include the design of sustainable production and factory systems as well as life-cycle engineering (life-cycle costing, life-cycle assessment).

The Fraunhofer IST - locations, activities, networks, applications.
© Fraunhofer IST, Drawing: Marén Gröschel
The Fraunhofer IST - locations, activities, networks, applications.

Sustainable development

The Fraunhofer IST has anchored sustainability in its mission statement. For the work at IST, goals 3, 6, 7, 9 and 12 are particularly relevant; selected activities are presented hereafter. 


Our Board of Trustees

The members of our Board of Trustees provide us with advice and support on matters of professional orientation and structural alterations.


Facts and figures


Networks and cooperations

We utilize synergies in our networks within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, in national and international collaborations, and in our partnerships with universities and colleges.


Excellent research