Fraunhofer IST receives the Ferchau Innovation Prize

Press release / April 04, 2011

The awardees of the Ferchau Innovation Prize 2011.
© Fraunhofer IST
The awardees of the Ferchau Innovation Prize 2011.

More efficient production: outstanding sun-protection coatings and aircraft turbines

Now two Fraunhofer researchers have become winners of the Ferchau innovation prize: the first place went to Dr. Bernd Szyszka of the Fraunhofer IST while Dr. Ingomar Kelbassa of the Fraunhofer ILT was honored for the development of a more efficient method of manufacturing aircraft turbines. The awards which are endowed with 22,500 euros in all were presented on 4th April at the Hannover Fair.

This year's slogan for the Ferchau Innovation Prize was »Save what's GOOD – energy, natural resources and primary products«. The prizes recognize innovative products, methods and processes which make a contribution to protecting resources and the environment. The first prize, worth 10,000 euros, was awarded to Dr. Bernd Szyszka of the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig who developed a module which makes coating special glass – such as sun-protection windows– much more efficient as regards time and energy.

Producing sun-protection coatings more efficiently

The sun is beating down outside. Heat quickly builds behind the window panes and it becomes unbearably hot indoors. Solar control coatings on the window create a remedy: several layers of different materials, including titanium oxide, prevent the glass from allowing the heat to pass through. Sputtering lines are used to produce coatings of this kind. Noble gas ions are shot at a target, such as titanium, for example. Here they first trigger an impact cascade – as on a pool table, some atoms are hit, which then themselves collide with other atoms. The impact is driven deep into the target. Some atoms detach from the material and settle elsewhere, including on the substrates to be coated, such as, for example, a window pane. Atom by atom a full-area coating is created. Dr. Szyszka, who is head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig, has managed, together with his team, to secure considerable increases in the efficiency of systems of this type – and for doing so, receives the Ferchau Prize. »With the same power level we can now make 35 percent more material«, says Szyszka, summing up. »The coating installations are becoming more inexpensive and more compact. «A further advantage is that the coatings produced have better properties, such as, for example, being more homogeneous. In comparison with the standard, surface roughnesses have been reduced by up to 60 percent.

The basis for these improvements is to befound in a new kind of sputtering technology, cylindrical co-sputtering  C2. Szyszka and his team do not shoot just the usual noble gas atoms at the titanium target but also bismuth atoms as well. »The bismuth atoms are lying on the titanium surface. When the noble gas atoms impact, the bismuth atoms are slowly incorporated in the titanium«, explains Szyszka. Again making the pool table comparison, it is as if a few larger balls were put on the table as well. When a noble gas atom now hits the surface, the larger bismuth atoms »brake« the impact a little, the impact cascade does not go so deep into the titanium and less energy is wasted.

Szyszka has already built a prototype of the sputtering system which has titanium targets 75 cm in length. Within two years Syszka wants to develop the system to the point where it will accommodate targets 3.80 m long. Target lengths of this order are usual in manufacturing solar control windows.

Ferchau Innovation Prize

This year's slogan for the Ferchau Innovation Prize, first awarded in 2007, was »Save what's GOOD– energy, natural resources and primary products«. The first prize is worth 10,000 euros, the second 7000 euros and the third 3000 euros. This year for the first time the 20,000 euros prize money was boosted with an additional special prize of 2500 euros for an innovation from a medium-sized company. Cooperation partners in the competition include the Fraunhofer Society, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) with its »Do things!« initiative and VDInachrichten, the weekly periodical for engineers.