Film and surface analysis for industry and research

A team of experienced employees processes your orders.
© Fraunhofer IST
A team of experienced employees processes your orders.

Within the framework of a multitude of research projects, the Analysis department of the IST has accumulated profound expertise in the field of materials analysis and testing technology. For 25 years, we have also been offering this as a service to industrial customers.

You are seeking support in: material and process development, quality assurance, damage analysis or reverse engineering?

We offer

  • The analysis of surfaces, films and solid materials
  • Advice on optimal analysis methods
  • A combination of a wide range of state-of-the-art methods
  • Confidential order processing
  • Fast processing, possibly within 24 hours

Our expertise and application fields in the area of material, film and surface analysis as well as testing technology

Chemical and structural analysis

Microscopy and surface measurement

Mechanical characterization

Friction and wear measurement

Optical characterization

Photocatalytic measurement technology

Further analysis methods

Our references

BMW Group
Federal Mogul GmbH
Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen
HAUZER Techno Coating
H-O-T Härte- und Oberflächentechnik GmbH & Co. KG
ionbond Netherlands BV
iwis motorsysteme GmbH & Co. KG
NXP Semiconductors
OC Oerlicon Balzers AG
pro-beam AG & Co. KG
Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG
Silgan White Cap Deutschland GmbH
Tajco Germany GmbH
ThyssenKrupp Bilstein GmbH
WEFA Inotec GmbH

Chemical and structural analysis

The Fraunhofer IST offers the possibility of determining the chemical elemental composition of films and surfaces with high lateral resolution (< 1 µm by means of EDX/WDX) and high vertical resolution (~1 nm by means of SIMS), high detection limit and high surface sensitivity (XPS). 

With the aid of X-ray diffraction (XRD), the crystal structure, grain sizes, textures and residual stresses can be characterized.


Energy and Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy

Chemical elemental analysis with high lateral resolution and sensitivity


Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy

Chemical elemental analysis with high depth resolution and detection sensitivity


X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Chemical elemental analysis of surfaces and bonding states


Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy

Chemical elemental analysis of thick films


X-Ray Diffraction

Crystal-structure analysis, grain sizes, textures and residual stresses


X-Ray Reflectivity

Film thickness, density and roughness of ultra-thin film systems

Microscopy and surface measurement

At the Fraunhofer IST, a multitude of microscopy methods are available which cover a wide range of different magnifications: This starts with the simple stereo magnifier, followed by diverse optical microscopes with high-quality digital image acquisition, confocal laser microscopy (which allows optical 3D imaging and measurement), tactile profilometry for 2D and 3D imaging of surfaces, scanning electron microscopy with up to 100,000-fold magnification, and, finally, atomic force microscopy (AFM), which achieves the highest lateral and vertical resolutions (< 1 nm).


Atomic Force Microscopy

3-dimensional imaging and measurement with highest lateral and vertical resolution


Optical microscopy

2- and 3-dimensional imaging and measurement of surfaces



2- and 3-dimensional scanning of surfaces with high vertical resolution 


Scanning Electron Microscopy

Combined imaging and chemical analysis of surfaces and materials


Focused Ion Beam

Production of local precision cross-sections allows a view below the surface

Mechanical characterization 

The IST offers a range of measurement and testing methods with which the mechanical properties of films and surfaces can be determined. These include micro- and nanoindentation, which can be used to determine the hardness and modulus of elasticity of coatings in the micrometer and sub-micrometer range. Mechanical residual stresses can be determined for crystalline materials by means of X-ray diffraction (see XRD). A further important mechanical parameter of films is also the strength of the adhesion of the films to the substrate. This can be determined for hard materials by means of scratch or Rockwell tests. Tensile and bending tests can simulate specific strain loads on coated components. And last, but not least, the coating thickness is one of the fundamental basic parameters which is determined. Depending on the material, thickness, substrate, geometry, etc., an entire range of methods is available for this purpose, each providing optimum results for specific applications.


Micro- and nanoindentation

Determination of hardness and modulus of elasticity of thin films


Film thickness

Profilometric, cross-section, crater, XRF, XRR, EPMA


Film adhesion

Scratch, Rockwell, cross-cut, pull-off test

Friction and wear measurement 

At the Fraunhofer IST, a range of friction and abrasion test rigs are available with which various mechanical contact situations can be simulated: dry running, running with lubricants, running at high temperatures or high loads, abrasive conditions, fatigue wear or testing on the microscale. Many of these tests can be performed in accordance with ISO, DIN or ASTM standards.


Pin-on-Disk Test

Adhesive friction and wear test


High-load, high-temperature

Adhesive friction and wear test


Crater abrasion test

Abrasive wear test


Taber Abraser Test

Abrasive wear test


Sand trickling test

Erosion test


Impact Test

Fatigue wear


Scour test

Abrasion test by means of brushes or textile surfaces

Optical characterization

Layers and surfaces can be characterized at the Fraunhofer IST with the aid of various optical methods. For substrates or individual layers as well as layer stacks, the spectral properties such as transmission, reflection and absorption are determined, as are the refractive indices and layer thicknesses. In addition to measurements in accordance with standards or adapted to customer requirements, we also offer the evaluation and interpretation of the measurement data.



Determination of thicknesses and dispersions of layers 



Measurement of transmission, reflection and scattering

Photocatalytic measurement technology

Photocatalytically active materials and surfaces promise self-cleaning, air-purifying and antimicrobial properties. The measure of photocatalytic activity is the determination of effectiveness, i.e. how effectively and efficiently harmful or disturbing substances are broken down. The Fraunhofer IST offers its customers a high number of specific and standard-compliant test methods for the various fields of application for their product and technology development.


Photocatalytic air purification

Determination of the air-purification effect


Photocatalytic self-cleaning

Determination of the self-cleaning effect


Resistance tests

Test methods for determination of durability and long-term stability

Further analysis methods


Contact angle measurement

Determination of contact angle and surface energy of samples


Magnetic measurements

Acquisition of hysteresis curves of magnetic films


Salt spray test

Corrosion test in accordance with DIN 9227