April 5, 2018: Opening ceremony Fraunhofer IPMS-ISS

Founded in 2012 in close cooperation between the Fraunhofer IPMS and the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, the Fraunhofer Project Group Mesoscopic Actuators and Systems MESYS developed a new class of electrostatic bending transducers at its sites in Dresden and Cottbus. While the beginnings were mainly characterized by the research and development as well as the testing of the so-called nanoscopic electrostatic drives (NED), in the final phase their use in the fields of microacoustics and microfluidics played a major role. The new actuator class developed by MESYS and already patented is CMOS-compatible and solves fundamental problems of electrostatic actuators. Due to the potentially high number of possible applications and the possible technological implementation variants, MESYS should now be expanded into a business segment. After the successful evaluation of the project group by reviewers in September 2017 and the confirmation of the Bund-Länder-Committee of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in November 2017, the way was paved for it. On January 1, 2018, the new business unit »Monolithic integrated actuator and sensor systems« (MAS) was founded, which is now active in Cottbus at the newly founded »Integrated Silicon Systems« (ISS) division of the Fraunhofer IPMS. In addition to the new MAS business unit, terahertz micro modules and applications will be another focus of research at Fraunhofer IPMS-ISS.

The work of the Fraunhofer project group MESYS was funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture MWFK of the state of Brandenburg and the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg.

The opening ceremony will take place on April 19, 2018 at 9:30 am at the central campus Cottbus, building 1 C, Konrad-Wachsmann-Allee 5, 03046 Cottbus. 

December 21, 2017: Fraunhofer IPMS continues research on mesoscopic actuators and systems in Brandenburg

After a successful evaluation of the Fraunhofer project group MESYS, the Federal Government-Länder Committee also expressed its opinion positively, paving the way for the Fraunhofer IPMS to continue its research activities on novel electrostatic microactuators in Brandenburg.

Please find the full press release here (in German only).

August 24, 2016: Call for Applications - Ph.D. Scholarship

Call for Applications within the Thematic Cluster “Functional Materials and Film Systems for Efficient Energy Conversion (FuSion)” of the BTU Graduate Research School.

Topic: "Studies and optimization of thin film layer properties in high efficient electrostatic actuators"
Deadline: 04.10.2016

There are also other Ph.D. Scholarships within the Cluster FuSion. Please find more information here: further details

February 2, 2017: Fraunhofer IPMS receives award for novel, high-performance electrostatic microactuators

Researcher Holger Conrad of the Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden took first place in the 2017 VIP/VIP+ Validation Prize 2017 awarded by the BMBF for his research results in the "Nano e-drive" project. The award was presented by Parliamentary State Secretary Stefan Müller in Berlin on  February 1, 2017 within the framework of the Innovation Conference on the "Validation of the Social and Technological Potential of Scientific Research" (VIP/VIP+).

Please find the full press release here.

October 16, 2016: Max Grünebaum Prizes awarded to scientists and artists for the 20th time in Cottbus

In Cottbus, the Max Grünebaum Foundation honored artists from the Cottbus State Theater and scientists from BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. The Max Grünebaum Prizes 2016, each worth 5,000 Euros, will be awarded to Dr.-Ing. Bert Kaiser and Dr.-Ing. Andreas Wurm from BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg for their outstanding scientific achievements. The Ernst Frank advancement award of the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and a scholarship for his studies in the UK will go to Philipp Richter this year.

Please find the full press release here (in German only).

December 11, 2015: Press release

Journal »Nature« to feature Fraunhofer IPMS and BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg review of new actuator principle

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS and the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) introduce a novel class of electrostatic micro actuators in the current issue of the "Nature Communications" professional Journal.

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10078

In 2012, the mesoscopic actuators and systems (MESYS) project group was launched in close cooperation between Fraunhofer IPMS and BTU. The researchers have been developing novel electrostatic microactuators, so-called nanoscopic electrostatic drives (NED), for three years. Now, this highly interesting scientific approach is being introduced to the public for the first time in an article appearing in the respected »Nature Communications« journal. Prof. Dr. Harald Schenk, Director of the Fraunhofer IPMS and Professor of Micro and Nanosystems at BTU, is delighted, »We are very proud of the appreciation of our work and our results being published in this prestigious professional journal. After three years of basic research, we were able to demonstrate a completely new actuatory principle.«

The CMOS compatible actuator class technology developed by MESYS solves fundamental problems of electrostatic actuators. Previously, deflection was very limited due to the so-called pull-in-effects and the movement of conventional actuators was restricted to approximately 33 percent of the electrode spacing. This problem has now been solved. Group Leader Holger Conrad explains, »By means of suitable lever mechanisms, deflections which are much greater than the electrode separations are now available. Therefore, nanometer-small electrode spacings can be deployed, enabling actuators to make use of the enormous force of electrostatic fields.«

The patented actuator class can greatly improve the performance of microsystems such as capacitive ultrasonic transducers, tilting micro-mirrors and microvalves in the future. In addition, the actuator class provides completely new design solutions for microsystems such as micropumps, MEMS loud speakers or micro positioning systems. Conrad concludes, »Our vision is to develop electrostatic actuators with extremely small gap distances for high deflections at moderate control voltages. We want to extend the developed principle to enable in-plane movement and believe that the new electrostatic bender actuators could perspectively replace or supplement piezoelectric or electrostrictive materials as well. This would then allow for RoHs-compliant bender actuators.«

The work of the project group MESYS headquartered at BTU Cottbus together with the Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden is supported through the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture (MWFK) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (grant number: 16V0297).

The article was published on December, 11 and is freely available as Open Access here:

September 22, 2015

The Digital Holography Microscope (DHM) is a dynamic 3D topography meter. It is able to measure in real-time the slightest movement of the entire microstructure at a time in the nanometer range. Therefore, it is perfectly suited to characterize micromechanical structures in development and production.

A video can be found here.

In this animation, the vertical deflection of such an electrostatically excited MEMS structure (detail of about 200x60 µm²) is shown which deflects approximately 100nm upwards and downwards.

September 19, 2015

An article about the project group MESYS was published in the newspaper "Lausitzer Rundschau" on September 19, 2015. The full article "Working in the nanometer range" can be found here (in German only).