Annual Report 2020/21

Photo: Aluminum coated granulate, as bulk material and sintered

Annual Report 2020/21

Esteemed partners of the Fraunhofer FEP and esteemed readers,

Due to the Corona pandemic, 2020 will long remain in everyone‘s memory as one of the most challenging years. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and our institute rose quickly to the new challenges in the spring. In doing so, the well-being of our employees and customers was and is important to us.

Great thanks go to our employees who, whether in the home office or on-site at our research facilities, together supported our research mission and moved projects forward during this difficult period. At the same time, outstanding ideas for researching and combating the novel corona virus were developed at the institute during the lockdown, resulting in a number of promising projects together with additional partners: the EU INNO4COV19 project, next-generation protective textiles, and the development of mobile cleaning robots for surface disinfection. Our expertise developed over many years in sterilization using accelerated electrons, in applications for our roll-to-roll systems, as well as with near-to-eye imaging with OLED microdisplays and sensors to identify infected persons, is being incorporated into these projects.

In addition to these research activities, 2020 naturally also brought new points of view and opportunities at all levels of work. This began with joint work via digital formats, and extended to the first hybrid events, with in-person participants being digitally connected to partners in compliance with the hygiene regulations at our institute. In this way, Fraunhofer FEP was able to host the first „Technologies for Hygiene“ workshop in cooperation with the Saxony Economic Development Corporation (Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen GmbH). Likewise, we now offer digital workshops and technical conferences (such as the parts2clean Online Forum together with Deutsche Messe) in order to continue to be available as an expert partner offering technical contributions and contract research, in order to compensate for in-person events that have had to be cancelled.

Moreover, the institute has assembled a very good portfolio of EU projects during 2020. EU Project revenues were approx. 2.5 million euros, or 9.7% of total revenues  . In a Fraunhofer-wide comparison, this represents a high proportion. Almost every division will be working on a wide range of solutions in EU projects over the next few years, such as improving availability of smart glass solutions for energy-efficient buildings, on perovskite-based lighting, and on the development of an innovation hub for sustainable plastic and paper surfaces. Together with Saxon, German and international partners, we are developing innovative coating technologies in many projects, such as for zeolite as an efficient energy storage material, or sensors and OLED microdisplays for products of the future.

The numerous new approaches to creating solutions, and our new and existing collaborations as well as close networking with our long-standing customers, partners and funding bodies in 2020 allows us to view the future positively and optimistically despite the unusual events of this year.

We would like to thank all our sponsors, customers, employees, and co-workers for their faithful collaboration, and hope you find this report to be interesting and enjoyable!


Fraunhofer FEP was able to bring in 9.3 million € of new business from industry through direct contracts. Proceeds of 10.5 million € were obtained from public projects funded by the federal and state governments. A portion of these, amounting to 4.8 million €, was attracted through joint publicly funded projects with mid-cap companies. The expenditure of institutional capital ran to 5.8 million €, thereof 4.3 million € in the operating budget.

Employee development

182 staff members were employed at the institute during the past year, of which 3 were trainees, along with 30 student trainees as well as 65 scientific assistants. Of the 70 staff members that were employed as scientists, 8 were additionally working on their doctoral degrees. The proportion of females in the scientific area amounted to 22 percent.

Investment costs

Total expenditures from the operating and investment budget amounted to 25.6 million €. 1.4 million € was invested in equipment, construction and infrastructure during the period.

Staff and material costs

Personnel expenditures totaled 13.7 million €, representing 57 percent of the operating budget (24.1 million €). Material costs amounted to 8.6 million €.

Flexible Products

© VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Project "Smart2Go"

Fraunhofer FEP has been coordinating the EU Smart2Go project since 2019. The project is focused on developing a universal platform for supplying energy to portable electronic applications. One project partner is the VARTA corporation that is contributing a flexible battery less than one millimeter (0.040”) thick. This is fed by various energy-harvesting technologies that can be selected and connected to the platform, depending on the energy source available.

A Finnish research center has taken over the integration of all components. Two end users will test the platform with the next generation of their products. Fraunhofer FEP itself is developing flexible, segmented OLED lighting elements for integration into textiles.

In addition, our scientists are working on the development of a suitable encapsulation technology. The crucial factor here is to achieve high mechanical robustness by means of a new lamination technology without compromising the sophisticated protective functionality.

Contact person

Dr. Matthias Fahland
Phone +49 351 2586 135



Coating of Metal Sheets and Strips, Energy Technologies

© luchschenF / shutterstock

Project "Neptun"

In project Neptun, fundamental investigations of new processes and materials for increasing the efficiency of CdTe solar cells were again able to be successfully carried out in 2020.

In close cooperation with our project partner, CTF Solar GmbH, efficiency of CdTe solar cells was increased by approximately 1%. The CdS layer contained in CdTe solar cells reduces the intensity of the shorter wavelengths of sunlight. Therefore, reducing the CdS layer thickness is one approach to increasing the efficiency of these solar cells. Unfortunately, reducing the CdS layer thickness not only increases the photocurrent, it also reduces the cell voltage, which as a result has not led to an increase in the efficiency up to now.

A new approach was therefore investigated in project Neptun. Plasma treatment of the base substrate (TCO-coated float glass) in vacuum was able to prevent a reduction in cell voltage when the CdS layer thickness was reduced, thus increasing the efficiency.

Contact person

Dr. Torsten Kopte
Phone +49 351 2586 120



Development of Customized Electron Beam Systems and Technologies

Project "DVD III"

The research group of Prof. Haydn Wadley, University of Virginia (USA), has developed and continuously optimized a special technology for the vacuum coating preferably of parts, fibers, foams and powders during the past years. Compared to conventional PVD methods, this technology is characterized by improved material utilization and the ability to deposit vapor even on surfaces without direct „line-of-sight“ contact to the vapor source. The core elements of this technology, known as „Directed Vapor Deposition“ (DVD), are the contamination-free evaporation of the layer-forming material by means of electron beams of high power density combined with focusing and directed transport of the vapor particles in carrier gas streams. The admixture of reactive gas as well as the co evaporation of different materials are also possible, whereby the carrier gas ensures uniform mixing of the constituents and thus promotes the (reactive) deposition of compounds with homogeneous composition.
Fraunhofer FEP has contributed to the implementation of this process idea with special electron beam and plasma sources for the low-vacuum range. A certain disadvantage of the DVD process is that the increased working pressure leads to scattering and energy loss of the vapor particles, which adversely affects film growth. By means of plasma activation, however, these problems can be overcome and coatings can be deposited in the desired morphology. This can be controlled by the plasma parameters, whereas the directivity of the vapor stream must not be disturbed and universal applicability to a wide range of materials is required. Therefore, a „multi-jet hollow cathode“ plasma source was developed for „DVD III“. Activation of the vapor is achieved by four symmetrically acting hollow cathode arc discharges sequentially fed by a single MF pulse power supply.

Contact person

Dr. Gösta Mattausch
Phone +49 351 2586 202

Coating and Electron Beam Processing of Parts

Heat storage materials for the energy transition

Space heating accounts for more than half the energy consumption in Germany, and therefore plays a crucial role in the energy transition. In addition to minimizing thermal losses, effective utilization of heat requires suitable storage to bridge the temporal gap between generation and demand. Zeolite heat-storage systems promise great flexibility and high storage capacity. Energy in the form of water vapor is absorbed in the interior of this highly porous material. One problem of this storage concept that has not yet been solved is the heat transfer between the storage material and the heat exchanger. High thermal transmission resistance between metalic structures (heat exchangers) supplying and removing heat to and from the granulated zeolite hinder its effective thermal loading and thermal discharge.

Fraunhofer FEP is taking a new approach in the ZeoMet project: Zeolite granules are metalized in a rotary drum process under vacuum. They thereby acquire a thin aluminum layer (< 0.1 mm) that has high thermal conductivity while at the same time still exhibiting enough porosity that the zeolite base material remains accessible to water vapor molecules, therefby maintaining the absorption capacity of the granules. This ensures good heat transfer at the loading and unloading point as well as heat and mass transport between the metallized pellets in the bed. Sintering of the individual metalized pellets to form larger aggregated units is also possible.

Contact person

Dr. Fred Fietzke
Phone +49 351 2586 366



Precision coating

Project "HiPERFORM"

In the ECSEL project HiPERFORM, which commenced in 2018, Fraunhofer FEP is working on the sputter deposition of epitaxially grown aluminum nitride (AlN) and gallium nitride (GaN) films on (111) silicon substrates. These are intended to serve as buffer layers, and prospectively as active layers in components for power electronics based on GaN semiconductors deposited on low-cost silicon wafers.

Together with the project’s equipment manufacturer part-
ners scia Systems GmbH and CREAVAC-Creative Vakuumbeschichtung GmbH, the necessary technical requirements for sputter deposition of the layers on 8“ wafers have been met. These include excellent vacuum levels, low contamination of the components, and means of heating the substrate to approx. 900°C. At Fraunhofer FEP, a magnetron sputtering process was developed to deposit the layers via reactive sputtering from the metal target in an argon-nitrogen atmosphere at deposition rates of up to 2 nm/s. X-ray analysis of the first AlN layers shows the intended epitaxial layer growth (see Fig.).

Contact person

Dr. Hagen Bartzsch
Phone +49 351 2586 390


Flexible Organic Electronics

© ronstik / shutterstock, Montage: Fraunhofer FEP

Project "MOLOKO"

The combination of light sources and light detectors on a compact module enables reflectance or photoluminescence measurements to be performed for analytical applications. With the help of organic electronics, photodiodes and light-emitting diodes can be produced inexpensively on simple glass substrates. One example of an analytical application currently being researched as part of the EU project MOLOKO (Multiplex phOtonic sensor for pLasmonic-based Online detection of contaminants in milK) is the analysis of quality characteristics and contaminants in milk. For this purpose, the chip is combined with a nanostructured plasmonic grating, which is provided with specific antibodies. The milk to be tested is passed over the chip via a microfluidic system. The OLED-OPD platform is used to measure the change in reflectivity of the plasmonic grating.

The entire system consists of a reusable microfluidic chip, organic light-emitting transistors (OLETs) or diodes (OLEDs), a sensor comprising organic photodetectors (OPDs), a nanostructured plasmonic grating and the specific antibodies. The organic photodetector is undergoing development at the Fraunhofer FEP, and the microfluidic chip at the Fraunhofer ENAS. The OLET, meanwhile, is being developed by CNR-ISMN in Bologna, and the photonic grating by the company Plasmore Srl in Pavia, both in Italy.

Initial results from the development of the optoplasmonic chip were presented at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.

Contact person

Dr. Christian May
Phone +49 351 2586 220


Microdisplays and Sensors

© Fraunhofer FEP / Fotografin: Claudia Jacquemin

Projekt "Glass@Service"

Fraunhofer FEP is closely collaborating with industry partners on smart glasses. Recently this happened in the collaborative project „Glass@Service – Interactive personalized visualization in industry processes at the Digital Factory”, lead by SIEMENS AG Berlin, including UVEX, Ubimax, DIOPTIC and Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). A follow-up project „secureAR – Secure AR service platform for industrial fabrication” has been started in 2020. Within „Glass@Service“, Fraunhofer FEP has created a 0.64“ 720p OLED microdisplay, featuring high frame rates, large contrast ratio and low power consumption. It provides resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels (full color at four sub-pixels) at dot sizes of 5.5 x 5.5 µm². Monochrome the resolution can increase fourfold, i. e., 2560 × 1440 pixels.
Pixel currents and luminance may be varied widely. Sub-pixel currents have been characterized up to 550 nA, enabling current density of 1.8 A/cm².

This new microdisplay has been implemented into an augmented-reality (AR) headset within the frame of this project.

Contact person

Dr. Uwe Vogel
Phone +49 351 8823 282

Medical and Biotechnological Applications

Project „BioIntElekt“

Implementing low-energy electron-beam technology for innovative biotechnological processes

Biotechnology is regarded as a key technology of the 21st century and is rapidly gaining market share worldwide. Consequently, innovations that make biotechnological processes more efficient and open up new fields of application are of enormous importance. A strong link with engineering sciences is an essential prerequisite for the competitive development of the German biotechnology industry. The project therefore intends to harness and combine electron-beam technology in a novel hybrid system – a modern method for stimulating and more efficiently implementing biotechnological processes in the liquid phase.

Current conventional electron-beam systems exhibit deficiencies in applicability, and their scalability is insufficiently adaptive. Project BioIntElekt is developing an innovative technology for low-cost treatment of liquids using low-energy electrons for customized biotechnological applications. The unique feature of the hybrid technology is the direct contact between the electron-beam source and the liquid, resulting in hardly any energy losses. The miniaturization of the electron-beam source integrated into the bioreactor represents a key component of the pioneering hybrid technology and increases its cost-effectiveness.

Contact person

Dr. Ulla König
Phone +49 351 2586 360


Materials Analysis

Investment in a new atomic force microscope

The investment in a new NX20 atomic force microscope from Park Systems GmbH has considerably improved the characterization capabilities for thin films at Fraunhofer FEP.

The device features a motorized XY table with a working area of 150 mm × 150 mm (6” × 6”). The measurements can thus be automated to a great extent and carried out with very high efficiency.

In non-contact mode, roughness of thin films can be determined with high horizontal and vertical resolution. Low roughness is desired for many optical coating systems in order to achieve the lowest possible scattering of light, for example. Another important application is topographical imaging for epitaxial layers. Here, AFM imaging can be used to investigate the type of layer growth and the quality of crystal with respect to lattice defects, both of which are crucial for utilizing these layers.

In addition, the instrument has other modes for determining physical properties such as electrical conductivity, piezoelectric deflection, and modulus of elasticity, which open up new, interesting application opportunities.

Contact person

Dr. Olaf Zywitzki
Phone +49 351 2586 180



Project „InnoFlash“

The key feature of flash-lamp annealing (FLA) is tempering thin coatings within a few milliseconds. High energy densities on substrates are achieved in a very short interval of time by means of a high-energy flash of light, facilitating faster annealing during dynamic sheet-to-sheet or roll-to-roll coating processes, and therefore higher throughput. FLA can be used, for example, as an alternative for annealing transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layers as well as for the treatment of thin-film electronics and for recrystallization of various materials.

Reliable process control is mandatory for industrial appli-cations. The most important parameters are consistent energy density per flash and duty cycle of the flashes.
A custom charging module was developed in the electronics development section of the Fraunhofer FEP as part of Project InnoFlash that is used with the FLA array. This newly developed module facilitates highly accurate charging of the energy storage device within a few milliseconds, which is one of the essential requirements for treating large surface areas with FLA.

Dr. Michiel Top

Contact person

Dr. Michiel Top
Phone +49 351 2586 355[at]


T. Kopte, C. Metzner
Moderne Verfahren zur Beschichtung metallischer Platten und Bänder
Oberflächen POLYSURFACES, Vol. 1, 2020, p. 6 – 9

S. Walker, A. Jakob, C. Dittfeld, J. Schönfelder, U. König, S.-M. Tugtekin
Sterilization and Cross-Linking Combined with Ultraviolet Irradiation and Low-Energy Electron Irradiation Procedure: New Perspectives for Bovine Pericardial Implants in Cardiac Surgery
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J.-P. Heinß, F. Fietzke
High-rate deposition of thick aluminum coatings on plastic parts for electromagnetic shielding
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Smarte selbstreinigende Oberflächen
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J. Ràfols-Ribé, N. D. Robinson, C. Larsen, S. Tang, M. Top, A. Sandström, L. Edman
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J. Fertey, L. Bayer, S. Kähl, R. M. Haji , A. Burger-Kentischer, M. Thoma, B. Standfest, J. Schönfelder, J. Portillo Casado, F.-H. Rögner, C. G. Baums , T. Grunwald, S. Ulbert
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S. Hamid, D. Heberling, M. Junghähnel, T. Preußner, P. Gretzki, L. Pongratz, C. Hordemann, A. Gillner
Optically Transparent Antenna Integrated Inside a Headlamp for Automotive Radar Application
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B. Zimmermann, G. Mattausch, C. Metzner
Rate and Composition Control for Plasma-assisted EB-PVD Processes by Optical Emission Spectroscopy
SVC Bulletin, Spring 2020, p. 64 – 71

T. Torims, G. Pikurs, K. Kravalis, A. Ruse, A.G. Chmielewski, A. Pawelec, Z. Zimek, G. Mattausch, M. Vretenar
Development of a Hybrid Electron Accelerator System for the Treatment of Marine Diesel Exhaust Gases
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M. Tajmar, T. Schreiber
Put strong limits on all proposed theories so far assessing electrostatic propulsion: Does a charged high-voltage capacitor produce thrust?
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K. Fehse, B. Richter, I. Schedwill
CMOS-integrierte Lichtemitter für optische Sensorik und Mikrodisplays
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M. Fahland, T. Vogt, U. Meyer, N. Prager, J. Fahlteich
Roll to Roll Deposition of Transparent Electrodes on Permeation Barrier Coatings
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S. Schreiber, M. Hoffmann
Biodegradierbare Elektronik: Basis für biologisch abbaubare Implantate
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S. Schreiber, M. Hoffmann, C. May
Material Selection for Biodegradable Organic Thin Film Transistors
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C. May, A. Graf
From the zoo to the wild: The appeal of structured OLED lighting
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US 10,557,196 B2
Method for Reducing the Adhesion of Dirt to Substrate
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JP 6649948 B
Method for Reducing the Adhesion of Dirt to Substrate
S. Günther, C. Steiner, J. Kubusch

US 10,644,070 B2
Component for Detecting Electronic Radiation
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EP 2 439 763 B1
Magnetron device and method for pulsed operation of a magnetron device
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EP 3 245 559 B1
Electrical Controlled Interference Color Filter and the use thereof
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DE 10 2012 024 599 B4
Anordnung mit optisch transparenten und funktionalen Bauelementen
O. Hild, B. Beyer, D. Schlebusch, S. Richter

EP 3 518 899 B1
Method for Immobilizing Plant active Substances an a non-metallic Substrate
M. Dietze, B. Kemper, J. Kubusch

JP 6689068 B2
Process for Depositing a transparent multilayer System with anti-scratch Properties
H. Bartzsch, P. Frach, K. Täschner

DE 10 2019 107 163 B3
Dünnschichttransistor und Verfahren zum Herstellen eines Dünnschichttransistors
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US 10,806,018 B2
Apparatus for Generating Accelerated Electrons
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DE 10 2015 109 044 B4
Bauteil zum Detektieren elektromagnetischer Strahlung
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CN 108603277 B
Method for Depositing a CdTe Layer on a Substrate
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US 10,797,109 B2
Microstructured Organic Sensor Device and Method for Manufacturing same
B. Richter, P. Wartenberg, K. Fehse, M. Jahnel

EP 3 181 721 B1
Method for Producing a Laminates Composite Consisting of a Film of Plastic Material and a Layer Deposited thereon
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EP 3 570 310 B1
Device for Generating Accelerated Electronics
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EP 3 133 184 B1
Method of Forming a Layer having high Light Transmission and /or low Light Reflection
M. Junghähnel, T. Preußner, U. Hartung