Sensors and Actuators

CeSMa steering wheel
© Fraunhofer ISC

Sensors and actuators are interdisciplinary key technologies in many areas of daily life. The Fraunhofer ISC, in particular its Center Smart Materials and Adaptive Systems CeSMA and the Optics and Electronics group, engage intensively in this research area which holds the promise of major economic and societal opportunities.

Our novel sensor and actuator solutions enable new functionalities, product designs and operating concepts which broaden application options in automotive, machinery and plant engineering, health and sports medicine, or in the textiles industry.


Further information

Find out more about the versatile application opportunities of our sensors and actuators, please visit 

Multifunctional 3D printing and bioprinting with functional materials (PDF)

Dielectric elastomer sensors (DES)

measure deformations or pressure:

  • Measurement of gripping force, integrated in a glove or robot arm
  • Registration of seating position and weight shift in the automotive or furniture industry
  • Textile-integrated measurement of expansion, deformation and pressure
  • Pressure measurement in sports and leisure equipment
  • Collision protection for man-machine interfaces
  • Heart rate measurement


Piezoelectric materials

can be used as stress and strain sensors, as proximity sensors or as ultrasound transducers and sensors:

  • For condition monitoring of construction parts; even at extreme temperatures (up to 900 °C) and atmospheres when encapsulated in glass ceramics
  • For applications in flexible printed sensor technology, e.g. in flexible touch-screens or textile fabrics (to monitor motion sequences or body functions)


Glass dosimeters

made of particularly sensitive glass for the monitoring of ambient influences:

  • Monitoring of sensitive objects, e.g. in museums
  • Environmental monitoring of industrial plants

Magneto-rheological fluids (MRF)

can attain reversible stiffening under magnetic control and are therefore used as:

  • Adaptive dampers
  • Clutches
  • Brakes


Magneto-rheological elastomers (MRE)

also magnetically controllable, undergo changes in solidity and can perform motion patterns:

  • Vibration damping (shearing, crushing)
  • Controllable bearings
  • Gaskets, valves
  • Haptic operating elements
  • Flexible grippers

Dielectric elastomer actuators

can perform linear motions or complex motion patterns with up to 5 directions in response to electrical triggering. They can be used as "artificial muscles" in many fields:

  • Flexible grippers
  • Loudspeakers
  • Motion of valves and other mechanical components
  • Control of mirrors and other optical elements
  • Valves and pumps
  • Operating elements with touch sensitivity

Services to customers

  • Application-oriented development of new sensor and actuator materials and concepts
  • Design of material properties for specific target applications and requirements
  • Design, construction and implementation of new and/or customer-specific sensor and actuator systems
  • Analysis and improvement of materials in terms of operating condition and lifespan
  • Construction of mechatronic systems and implementation of mechanical components, specifically prototype construction
  • Organization and implementation of measuring sequences
  • Identification of new application potential
  • Consulting on transfer and integration in products or industrial processes

Project TheraTex

The aim of the TheraTex project, funded by the BMBF within the framework of the twenty20 FutureTEX initiative, is to develop various textile-integrated technologies to enable user-centered, therapy-independent therapy for patients* with hemiparesis.
The textile development is carried out according to the user-centered design in order to meet the requirements for a practical, ergonomic and aesthetic textile and fashion design (Weissensee University of Art and Design).

Special attention is paid to easy handling when dressing and undressing and to the high wearing comfort (Knit Zella).
The special feature is the combination of different sensor types for the detection of body postures by elastomer sensors / electrodes (Fraunhofer ISC, rehamed-tec) and movements (TU-Berlin) in textiles and shoe insoles. Actuating functions are performed by electrode arrays for the supportive stimulation of degenerated muscles (Valitech). With the help of software (ART&COM Studios), which visualizes movements and postures and motivates patients in terms of motivating feedback in their private environment and in their everyday life, the therapy process is to be improved and accelerated.

Your local contact

Gerhard Domann

Contact Press / Media

Gerhard Domann

Head of CeSMA

Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC
Neunerplatz 2
97082 Würzburg, Germany

Phone +49 931 4100-551

Bernhard Brunner

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Bernhard Brunner

Deputy Head of CeSMA

Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC
Neunerplatz 2
97082 Würzburg, Germany

Phone +49 931 4100-416