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Institut für Oberflächen- und Schichtanalytik GmbH (IFOS)

Research Center

Trippstadter Straße 120
67663 Kaiserslautern


IFOS was founded in December 1989 as a non-profit research institution of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Since 1996, it has had the status of a scientific institution of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern.

The core competencies of the institute, with its 20+ employees, lie in research and development in the field of instrumental surface and layer analysis as well as in the practical use of surface-sensitive analysis methods.

We see ourselves as a link between university research and market-oriented economy with two main aims: We aim to pursue research interests of the economy with regard to current and future products and production methods through our non-profit activities, and we aim to transfer scientific research results from universities and other research institutions to applied research and industry. To this end, we conduct both contracted research in the private sector and, often with cooperation partners from universities, publicly-funded research projects.

The main focus of IFOS is the determination of the composition, chemical bonding properties and structure of solid surfaces and thin-film systems. We offer users from industry, universities and other research institutions, direct access to the analysis techniques available today, which are usually very complex and expensive and, thus, we sustainably support the transfer of these processes into technological and industrial practice.

Nearly all of the entire range of methods available today for the highest-resolution chemical and structural analysis of surfaces and thin layers is used at IFOS, including electron spectroscopic and mass spectrometric methods (AES, XPS, SIMS, SNMS and 3D Atom Probe Tomography). These methods enable the chemical composition of surfaces and thin-film structures to be characterized with high vertical and lateral resolution down to the nanometer range. Atomic force (AFM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) allow fine-range analysis down to atomic dimensions. Furthermore, modern systems for X-ray structure measurements (XRD), for Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and for Focused Ion Beam analysis (FIB) are available (see entire list below).

Institut für Oberflächen- und Schichtanalytik GmbH (IFOS)

Institut für Oberflächen- und Schichtanalytik GmbH (IFOS)

Contact Person
Dr. rer. nat. (Dipl.-Phys.) Michael Wahl
Project Manager for Contract Research
+49 63120573-3333
is SME contact

Surface Mass Spectrometry

  • Dynamic Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (Dynamic SIMS)
  • Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS)
  • Secondary Neutral Particle Mass Spectrometry (SNMS)
  • 3D Atom Probe Tomography (3D-APT)

Electron Spectroscopy

  • Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES)
  • X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS, ESCA)
  • Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy (UPS)

Micro-range Analysis

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM, SEM) with:
    • Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis (EDX)
    • Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Analysis (WDX)
    • Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD)
  • Focused Ion Beam in combination with a Scanning Electron Microscope (Dual Beam FIB)

Nanoscale Analysis

  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) with:
    • Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis (EDX)
    • Electron Series Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)
    • Electron Diffraction in Transmission (TED, SAD)
    • Automated Crystal Orientation Mapping (ACOM)
    • TEM-Preparation (Ultramicrotomy, Ion Thinning, FIB)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (SFM, AFM)
  • Micro- and Nanoindentation
  • Nanoscratch

X-ray Analysis

  • X-ray Diffractometry (XRD)
  • X-ray Reflectometry (XRR)


  • Tribometry
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR)
  • Raman Spectroscopy
  • UV-Vis Spectroscopy
  • White Light Interferometry (WLI)
  • Contact Angle Analysis
  • Metallography
  • Light Microscopy

As part of contract research, IFOS, as the technical infrastructure facility of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, offers a wide range of services for the analysis of surfaces, thin layers and solids. IFOS has more than thirty years of extensive analytical know-how in this area. This is demonstrated by the successful processing of over a hundred customer orders annually, as well as the research results from many successfully processed BMBF, AiF and DFG research projects, e.g. in the areas of nanofunctionalization of surfaces, research into friction and wear on the micro and nano scale, investigation of the adhesion behavior of polymer-metal or metal-metal compounds, and the interaction of biomolecules with surfaces or the characterization of photovoltaic materials.

We examine topography, morphology, hardness and chemical-structural composition with modern and purposefully selected measuring methods, interpret the results and provide solutions. We not only deliver measured values, but we also help with:

  • Discussion of problems and formulation of a target-oriented analytical question
  • Development of a complete analysis concept, especially the problem-oriented selection of the analysis method(s) required
  • Evaluation and interpretation of the analysis results
  • Individual discussion of results and documentation
Service for Industry and SMEs