Industrial Solutions for Processes

Machine vision for quality assurance - multidimensional sensor technology

Industrial solutions for processes

© Fraunhofer IPMS
MEMS scanner sensor technology

The digitalisation of production requires the use of sensors that function like multi-dimensional sensory organs. Fraunhofer IPMS is developing microscanning mirrors that will enable robots to perceive objects in their environment in a similar way to human vision. This would enable industrial robots to take on even more demanding tasks and react adequately to their environment.

A Fraunhofer IPMS research team is pursuing the approach of a "scanning eye", which is intended to enable machine vision in three dimensions. The scanning mirror module functions as a scanning eye that can record high-resolution images in all three spatial axes. The scientists use the LiDAR principle (Light Detection and Ranging) for this: the scanner mirror modulates the light of a laser and detects the reflected signals; at the same time, a time-of-flight measurement of the light between the object and the detector is carried out.

The robust MEMS scanners are very easy to integrate due to their high degree of miniaturisation. In the field of automated industrial production, the small scanner mirror modules can be implemented in robot arms, for example, so that the robots are able to permanently detect their surroundings, recognise upcoming work steps and monitor the quality of their work. The robot eye operates fully automatically. In addition to optical perception, the robot eye can be extended with additional functionalities. For example, a non-destructive material test of the products can be realised with the help of infrared spectroscopy or a sensory detection of the environment can be carried out by means of quantum cascade laser spectroscopy. This detects the spectral fingerprint of substances, making them precisely identifiable.

This type of sensor technology is used, among other things, in the quality monitoring of drinking water, the testing of medicines in the pharmaceutical industry, the remote monitoring of industrial plants, the leakage monitoring of pipelines or the detection of hazardous substances.

Screening services for the semiconductor industry

Industrial solutions for processes

Fraunhofer IPMS offers semiconductor screening and evaluation services for materials, processes, chemicals and consumables from laboratory to production scale for IC manufacturers and suppliers. To this end, we have experienced scientists, professional wafer handling (ISO 9001) and state-of-the-art equipment for 200/300 mm wafers with short processing times. This helps our customers to reduce costs and time-to-market.

Our services:

  • Consumable benchmarking
  • Process development
  • Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI)
  • Pilot production
  • Equipment evaluation

Quality control via optical coherence tomography (OCT)

Industrial solutions for processes

With OCT, the surface and depth structure of the material can be done in micrometre resolution. A key advantage of the method: OCT uses light instead of sound to analyse the material. Therefore, packaging and product properties can be analysed at the speed of light. In addition, the examination is contact-free and non-invasive using infrared without the use of ionising radiation. Products can thus be volumetrically recorded quickly and accurately without being damaged. The homogeneity and thickness of the surface material can also be reproduced in 3D. By detecting defects at an early stage, processes can be optimised and costs saved. If critical defects occur, it is possible to react immediately.

The OCT spectroscope can be installed directly in the robot arm so that the industrial robot can adapt or interrupt the production process in the event of deviations. For manufacturing, the "Characterisation Methods" working group of the Fraunhofer IPMS offers application-specific OCT studies. In addition, the scientists develop customer-specific OCT inspection systems for laboratory operation, product testing and process monitoring.


Characterization of flowing gases by means of ultrasound

Industrial solutions for processes

© Fraunhofer IPMS

Fraunhofer IPMS develops multi-sensor systems for characterizing flowing gases. These systems record several sensor parameters simultaneously, including volume flow, gas composition, pressure and temperature. The goal is to provide compact and cost-effective solutions compared to conventional gas systems.

The multi-sensor system includes a flow sensor based on capacitive micromachined ultrasonic sensor (CMUT) technology. This sensor enables flow measurement of non-corrosive gases in small diameters (smaller than DN50). 

In addition, a MEMS-based hydrogen sensor based on sound velocity measurement is being developed. This sensor is suitable for the measurement of non-corrosive binary gas mixtures.

The multi-sensor system serves as a platform for the characterization of gas systems. It can be adapted and extended for different applications, for example for other gas mixtures. The principle can also be transferred to the characterization of liquid media, such as the aging process of industrial oils or blood measurements.

Spectral condition detection via ultrasound

Industrial solutions for processes

Spectroscopic examination by means of ultrasound enables statements to be made about physical parameters of materials and for the chemical analysis of liquid media. By evaluating the frequency-dependent attenuation and the speed of sound, information can be deduced about the quality and composition of liquids such as oils or alcohol-water mixtures, an ideal complement to optical spectroscopy. In addition, the investigation of scattering effects enables the detection of particles and suspended bodies in the solution.

The capacitive micromechanical ultrasonic transducers (CMUT) developed at Fraunhofer IPMS offer a number of advantages for acoustic spectroscopy. In contrast to common piezoelectric ultrasonic elements, CMUTs are realised by means of micromechanical manufacturing processes and thus enable a highly compact design for environmental measurement systems. In combination with monolithic integration using a CMOS circuit, the sensors can be realised as a complete analysis system on a chip. The ideal acoustic adaptation to liquid media also enables extremely efficient coupling of the sound waves into the analysis media as well as an excellent frequency bandwidth and highly sensitive detection. The Fraunhofer IPMS offer includes development and characterisation services as well as evaluation systems for spectral condition monitoring.

Non-destructive optical material testing

Industrial solutions for processes

Spectroscopic methods are already being used for non-destructive optical material testing in many areas. The near-infrared (NIR) spectral range with wavelengths from 900 to 1900 nm is particularly suitable for the analysis of plastics, foodstuffs, and agricultural products. Here, an increasing demand is developing for compact, mobile systems for fast and cost-effective on-site NIR analysis. The applications for this are manifold: the stringent monitoring of supply and process chains, incoming goods inspections, and environmental monitoring. Such mobile and compact MEMS-based systems are being developed by Fraunhofer IPMS in collaboration with its industrial partner Hiperscan GmbH.

Development of an open-source RISC-V ecosystem for industrial microelectronics applications.

Industrial solutions for processes

The TRISTAN project aims to extend the European RISC-V ecosystem by a non-patented, freely accessible platform for processor architectures with a large number of essential components. This is to be made industrially usable for numerous industrial application areas, such as automated driving. The project will develop processors, peripherals, software components and design tools and methods for chip design. In this way, an independent and open alternative to commercial - mostly non-European - solutions can be provided and Europe's technological sovereignty strengthened. The open source approach pursued in the project can contribute to enabling the production of low-cost processor systems with high energy efficiency.

In the project, Fraunhofer IPMS will work with other partners to develop an open source trace module as IP for embedded RISC-V processors based on suitable specifications such as the Nexus TCODE 7. This trace IP will be integrated with an existing RISC-V processor (EMSA5) at Fraunhofer IPMS and a TSN capable Ethernet endpoint IP in a demonstrator to show interference-free tracing with simultaneous use of the interface by the user application on the processor. 

Distributed sensor electronics for energy-efficient and predictive maintenance of structures

Industrial solutions for processes

Within the OCTOPUS project, application-oriented electronics are being developed to exploit the advantages of edge computing. In the joint project ImaB-Edge, an electronic system is being developed to permanently monitor the condition of the fabric of infrastructure structures. Sensors integrated into a structure continuously record measurement data that is analyzed and evaluated using artificial intelligence. The condition of the structure is then transmitted to a control center or to service personnel. The project thus contributes to the safety of infrastructure and to its cost-saving maintenance.

The main task of Fraunhofer IPMS in this project is the design of an energy-efficient, flexibly scalable and yet very high-performance computing cluster consisting of several RISC-V processors. Hardware accelerators optimized for the application are used, among others according to the RISC-V Vector Extensions. The EDGE gateway serves as a stand-alone data acquisition module for the permanently installed sensor EDGE modules, as well as for the more irregularly used non-destructive testing systems in the construction industry (NDT systems). In addition, the EDGE gateway will serve as a central interface module for the operator. This connects on-site, provides current a priori knowledge, and fuses this with past knowledge gained from the EDGE Gateway. The EDGE gateway will also implement the integration of expert knowledge into the sensor system.