Surfaces and films for sustainable products and related production systems are the center of the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST. As an internationally recognized partner in applied research, the institute taps the synergies of process engineering and production technology. Based on the mission statement of sustainability, around 110 employees create systems from the material through the process to the component, from the process chain to the factory, to recycling.
Current priorities in the business fields “mechanical engineering, tools and automotive technology“, “energy and electronics“, “optics“, “life science and ecology“, and also “aerospace“ are:
- Cyber-physical systems / Computational surface engineering & science
- Smart surfaces
- Sensor technology / Industry 4.0
- Energy storage systems
- Multifunctional surfaces
- Precision optical coatings
The employees work together with customers from industry and research to develop customized solutions: from prototypes through economic production scenarios to upscaling to industrial magnitudes – and all this whilst maintaining closed material and substance cycles.
In addition to application-oriented research and development, scientific principles are also researched within various collaborations with universities and research institutions.
Coating and surface technology is the key to innovative products and systems: Through modification, patterning and coating of the surface, a wide range of functions and functionalities can be realized. Friction reduction, abrasion and corrosion protection, sensor features or optical properties are just a few examples.
For this purpose the Fraunhofer IST offers these available technologies among others:
- 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 as well as
- atomic layer deposition (ALD).
One of the institute's particularly strong points is its ability to create the optimum process chain for the respective task on the basis of a broad spectrum of processes and coating materials. The Fraunhofer IST not only has excellent capabilities in surface analysis 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.
The range of services offered by the Fraunhofer IST is complemented by the expertise of other institutes within the Fraunhofer Group “Light & Surfaces” as well as by the competencies of the Institute for Machine Tools and Production Technology IWF of the TU Braunschweig, which is simultaneously led by the director of the IST Prof. Christoph Herrmann and of the Institute for Surface Technology IOT, also at the TU Braunschweig.