The project

The aim of the project is to develop a new process for making films anti-reflective. A plasma-etching process, which up until now has been utilized for small and compact optical parts, will be further developed for modifying film surfaces.
A key aim is to realize this process in a continuously operating plant (roll-coater).

The project work involves:

  • the testing and evaluation of plasma and ion sources that can guarantee effective etching on defined films;
  • the determination of parameters for generating anti-reflective structures on PET film, TAC film, and three further film materials by optimizing initial layers (layer material and thickness) and etching parameters;
  • the construction and testing of a roll-coater with a plasma source or ion source, with the aim of generating the structures in a continuous process;
  • the manufacture and testing of prototypes.

Plastic films are nowadays produced in enormous quantities. The biggest user is the food packaging industry. In addition there is a very wide range of applications in high-tech products. These products and applications include packaging, protective encapsulation of medicines and electronic goods, decorative elements, and also the realization of complex functions in displays and solar cells. The increasing use of all types of mobile electronic devices has in particular seen the last-mentioned applications grow in importance.

In most cases the optical properties of the films must be customized for particular applications. Films that are anti-reflective are in demand. Due to the different refractive indices of plastics and air, light is partly reflected on the front and rear sides and this is even so for transparent films. For widely-used PET the reflection is about 12 percent, and this value is higher than for glass.  

Polymer films with anti-reflective properties can be used in all situations where large areas need to be made anti-reflective at favorable cost. Typical fields of application include glazing for display cabinets and shop windows, large optical elements for projection equipment, and car parts. Anti-reflective and anti-fog surfaces are also of interest for, for example, sports glasses, windscreens, and displays.

Decisive for commercial use, particularly for medium-sized companies, is the availability of reasonably priced anti-reflective films. The project is tackling this issue in two ways. Firstly, the plasma-etching process has the potential for producing good quality products at low production cost. Secondly, the work is focusing on realizing a roll-to-roll coating plant. This type of machinery is ideal from a logistics standpoint and can be universally used for different roll products. At the same time, the continuous operation and simultaneous running of all necessary processes also offer the potential for favorable-cost production.


The idea for the project originated from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF. The base processes for successfully generating anti-reflective structures on compact plastic materials had already been developed at the Fraunhofer IOF in preceding years. Direct contact with film manufacturers (Southwall Europe and Island Polymer) made it clear that there was a need for anti-reflective films that were not currently being manufactured by European companies.

The consortium that has been brought together to successfully and efficiently realize the project work comprises partners with complementary experience. All stages of the project involve leading companies with the necessary industrial and technological expertise. The evaluation of various plasma sources at the start of the project is being undertaken with the support and technology of Roth&Rau AG. Simultaneously the research organizations are studying the mechanisms that lead to changes in film topography on exposure to plasma. Another main area of work involves the construction and testing of a roll-coater technology for structure generation. This work mainly involves the Fraunhofer FEP, Roth&Rau AG, and Southwall Europe GmbH.

A parallel development concerns studies to mold anti-reflective structures from a film master. The transfer of structures in this way is of particular interest for optical lenses and spectacle lenses and is the focus of work being undertaken by the Fraunhofer IOF in collaboration with Leica Microsystems GmbH and Rodenstock GmbH. As users of modified films, Johnson Controls GmbH, NOWOFOL Kunststoffprodukte GmbH & Co. KG, and SeeReal Technologies GmbH will prepare specifications for anti-reflective /anti-fog and anti-reflective / hydrophobic combinations and then test and evaluate the film samples.

The project consortium covers a value creation chain which includes the evaluation of the starting films, the construction of suitable plant technology for process development, and the testing of performance on prototypes. The industrial partners can be divided into film manufacturers, plant / ion source constructors, coaters, and users.


Optical components and films made of plastic are typically used in Germany for products made by small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). In a competitive marketplace the SMEs require maximum functionality and usage value for their products. The research results form the basis for innovative and efficient optical components which are required, for example, for product developments such as optical sensors for IT, communication technology, and medical technology. From the standpoint of the participating companies, it is strategically important for European industry to undertake its own development activities in the area of display technology and precision optics and to maintain a certain independence from market leaders from, for example, the Far East.

The consortium partners will make use of the project results for the following:

  • manufacture and marketing of anti-reflective films as a favorably-priced mass product;
  • use of specially modified films and nanostructuring on plastic in combination with layers on high-quality optical products;
  • development and marketing of optimized plasma and coating technology for users who wish to modify their products via nanostructuring.

The PolAR project is in principle still open for further partners, providing the interests of the companies who have already supported the project financially and with R&D assistance and the interests of the participating institutes are maintained.

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP (Coordinator)

Dr. Matthias Fahland
Winterbergstraße 28
01277 Dresden
Phone 0351 2586-135
Fax 0351 2586-55135

Fields of expertise, target industries:
Display technology, photovoltaic technology, medical technology
Project tasks:
Project coordination, roll-coater technology for the plasma-etching of films

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF

Dr. Ulrike Schulz
A.-Einstein-Straße 7
07745 Jena
Phone 03641 807-344
Fax 03641 807-601

Fields of expertise, target industries:
Optical layers, plastic optics
Project tasks:
Fundamental studies on generating anti-reflective structures on film materials


Technical University Dresden

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Gerald Gerlach
01062 Dresden
Phone 0351 463-32077
Fax 0351 463-32320

Fields of expertise, target industries:
Automation, measurement, and control technology, electrical power engineering, information electronics, communication technology, micro/opto/nano-electronics
Project tasks:
Characterization of plasma and ion sources, layer analysis


Island Polymer Industries GmbH

Jana Kraberg
Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Areal A
Andresenstraße 6, Geb. 291
06766 Wolfen
Phone 03464 636-307
Fax 03464 636-844

TAC films
Project tasks:
AR / anti-fog for TAC films


Roth&Rau AG

Dr. Michael Zeuner
Gewerbering 10
09337 Hohenstein-Ernstthal
Phone 03723 4988-93
Fax 03723 4988-25

Plasma and coating technology
Project tasks:
Evaluation of plasma and ion sources


Johnson Controls GmbH

Sreenivas Paruchuri
Industriestraße 20-30
51399 Burscheid
Phone 02174 65-5128
Fax 02174 65-4688

Automotive interiors
Project tasks:
Antiglare for non-transparent films


Leica Microsystems CMS GmbH

Frank Eisenkrämer
Ernst-Leitz-Straße 17-37
35578 Wetzlar
Phone 06441 29-2623
Fax 06441 29-2555

Precision optical systems, microscope lenses
Project tasks:
Transfer of anti-reflective structures to curved lenses


NOWOFOL Kunststoffprodukte GmbH & Co. KG

Robert Hodann
Breslauer Straße 15
83315 Siegsdorf
Phone 08662 6602-68
Fax 08662 6602-50

Fluoropolymer films and PP films, for example for greenhouses
Project tasks:
AR properties for hydrophobic films, combined AR / anti-fog


Rodenstock GmbH

Dr. Gerd-Peter Scherg
Isartalstraße 43
80469 München
Phone 089 7202-397
Fax 089 7202-143
Spectacle lenses
Project tasks:
Transfer of anti-reflective structures to curved lenses


SeeReal Technologies GmbH

Dr. Hagen Sahm
Blasewitzer Str. 43
01307 Dresden
Phone 0351 45032-90
Fax 0351 45032-500

2D / 3D display technology
Project tasks:
Test anti-reflective films for display applications


Southwall Europe GmbH

Dr. Roland Thielsch
Southwallstraße 1
01900 Großröhrsdorf
Phone 035952 44-343
Fax 035952 44-320

Coated special films for architecture and the automotive sector
Project tasks:
Roll-coating technology, coating and testing of anti-reflective films


Funded by:
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie
Funding reference: 16/N0723
Duration: 01.10.2008 - 30.09.2011