R&D Projects

Self-Adjusting Plasma Process Control Unit (SappCU)

The aim of the project is to develop, implement and verify the self-regulating control of a process for plasma-assisted surface hardening of metallic components based on laser-optical measurement of the plasma-activated gas composition. The innovative aspect here is the in-process use of laser absorption spectroscopy for non-invasive, in-situ measurement of the plasma-activated gas composition within the plasma reactor, as well as the development of a new control algorithm for the plasma process based on the recorded sensor data.
The joint developments aim to provide a novel control unit that enables reliable self-regulating plasma process control, whereby the solution is also scalable to any other plasma-based reactors. The control unit developed opens up the possibility of establishing new, modern system concepts and process technologies for the efficient and resource-saving surface hardening of metallic components.


Funding programZentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM)
Grant agreement IDKK5451301BR2


INnovative plasma nitriding through dynamic PROcess control via optical Frequency combs (InPro-F)

Nitriding and nitrocarburizing processes are used industrially to improve the hardness, wear resistance and fatigue strength of metallic surfaces. Due to its simpler handling, gas nitriding has been common practice to date, accounting for around 93% of global annual plant sales. The plasma nitriding process, which is much more favorable in terms of environmental impact, resource utilization and flexibility with regard to treatable materials, has so far had only limited market acceptance. The main reasons for this are the lack of key figure-controlled process management to date. The provision of dynamic process control based on in-situ measured values can represent the technological leap in plasma nitriding that is being sought. Laser absorption spectroscopy in the mid-infrared spectral range provides a measuring technique for recording the concentration of process-relevant molecules in situ and making them available for process control.
The solution approach pursued in the cooperation is based on a new type of laser class, an optical frequency comb. New technologies and innovative components required for this were developed as part of the Inpro-F project. The project result is a demonstrator of an optical measurement and control system that is suitable for process control of a plasma-assisted nitriding or nitrocarburizing process under industrial conditions.


Funding programKMU-innovativ
Grant agreement ID13N14946


mid-infrared system utilizing LEVEl-crossing chirp-Spectroscopy in quantum-cascade-laser (LEVES)

The LEVES cooperation project aims to develop a new type of compact mid-IR process monitoring system for in-situ process monitoring in the semiconductor industry, plasma process diagnostics, environmental and exhaust gas monitoring. Its core is a cost-effective Fabry-Perot-Cavity quantum cascade laser (FP-QCL) with an innovative, groundbreaking approach to tailored chirped emission with a spectral tuning range of 20 cm-1. This device is a game changer in the spectroscopy industry and was previously not available on the world market. Thanks to its broad tunability, it covers broad and overlapping absorption features of multiple chemical compounds, allowing the systems to quantify each molecule by spectral analysis.
Thanks to these properties, the novel laser source is suitable for integration into compact gas analyzers, which are relevant in a wide range of industries (semiconductor processes, automotive exhaust gas monitoring, biogas plant emissions and natural gas analyzers, industrial emissions monitoring, etc.). The new spectroscopy system thus offers unprecedented performance compared to the solutions available on the market to date.


Funding programEurostars
Grant agreement ID12309


MEMS based photothermal SPECtrometer for PROtein and dna analysis for laboratory and production (MEMSpecPro)

To provide a solution for the analysis of a few nanoliter samples of expensive biosamples, such as DNA and proteins, a MEMS microchip-based system was developed in collaboration between Fourien Inc, neoplas control GmbH and Fraunhofer IAF as part of the MEMSpecPro project. Canadian partner Fourien Inc. is designing and developing the MEMS microchips (microfluidic cantilever), the optics for the spectrometer and the software for control and data processing. In order to be able to use the MEMS microchips for the spectroscopic task, a specially adapted infrared laser module was developed in cooperation with the German partners neoplas control GmbH and Fraunhofer IAF and made available for system integration. The performance of this modular solution was successfully demonstrated in the project result.


Funding programZentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM)
Grant agreement IDZF4602101BA8


Mid InfraRed Innovative lasers For Improved SENSor of hazardous substances (MIRIFISENS)

The mid-infrared range (MIR) is the preferred wavelength range for a range of applications including high sensitivity trace gas detection, chemical emissions monitoring, process control and biological sensors. In the field of MIR laser sources, further technological advances had to be made, with tunability, space requirements, power consumption and wallplug efficiency being decisive features with regard to the specific fields of application. In the MIRIFISENS project, state-of-the-art micro- and nanofabrication techniques were used to drive the necessary technological advances in sensitivity, selectivity, multi-gas capability, compactness, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
The work in the MIRIFISENS project has laid the foundations for a new class of sensors with superior tunability, better portability and enhanced detection capabilities, fundamentally changing the landscape of MIR chemical spectroscopy.


Funding programFP7
Grant agreement ID317884