Atmospheric pressure plasma processes

Atmospheric pressure plasma processes are mainly used for the activation and cleaning of surfaces in industrial applications today. The Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST develops new customer-oriented processes that make it possible to suitably modify or coat various surfaces, also on 3D substrates. Fields of application include microsystems engineering, medical technology, packaging, the capital goods industry, electronics industry, the automotive sector and aviation & aerospace.

The technology

Cold physical plasmas with high-energy electrons and ions are produced directly from the surrounding atmosphere using strong electrical fields. This creates highly reactive radicals and more stable reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that attack the cell membranes and walls of bacteria and fungi in synergistic association with the free charge carriers.

By using suitable gases and reagents, atmospheric pressure plasmas can also be used for the chemical functionalisation of surfaces with reactive groups. The plasmas can also be produced in very low volumes if needed. Known as microplasmas, they can be used for the targeted local modification of surfaces, for example to configure the desired surface energy.

Benefits of cold atmospheric pressure plasmas

  • Energy and resource-efficient technology
  • Universal, material and geometry-independent, easy to handle
  • Straightforward integration into process chains
  • No change to the base material
  • No thermal damage to the substrates
  • Production of effective agents directly during plasma treatment
  • For use in therapy: promotion of wound healing, without pain and so far free of side effects for the patient
  • Antibacterial effectiveness regardless of resistance to pharmaceuticals
  • Targeted local chemical modification of the surface


  • Cleaning, pre-treatment and surface modification
  • Coatings through plasma-assisted CVD under atmospheric pressure
  • Microplasmas, microstructuring, interior coating
  • Treatment of three-dimensional components
  • Metallisation of plastics
  • Chemical functionalisation of surfaces
  • Hydrophilic and (super) hydrophobic coatings
  • Biocompatible coatings
  • Barrier layers on flexible substrates
  • Improving adhesion
  • Anti-reflective films

Systems engineering

  • Atmospheric pressure plasma systems for cleaning, activation, functionalisation and coating
  • RotoTEC system for the functionalisation or activation of three-dimensional components
  • SÜSS Bond Aligner with plasma tool for the pre-treatment of silicon wafers in a clean room
  • Plasma printing systems for the structured treatment of surfaces
  • Systems for the interior coating of components and disposables, such as bags or bottles

Methods for film/process characterisation

  • Infrared spectroscopy
  • Determining the density of functional groups
  • Contact angle measurements, determination of the free surface energy
  • In-situ bonding strength measurement
  • Scanning electron microscopy/EDX
  • Optical emission spectroscopy
  • Adhesive strength measurements

What we offer

  • Layer and process development
  • Production and coating of demo units, prototypes and small series
  • Support for plant construction
  • Component and device development
  • Consulting and feasibility studies
  • Film characterisation
  • Test processes for proof of effectiveness
  • Technical partner for clinical plasma therapy approaches