Sensor and Actuator Technology

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.



Dielectric elastomer sensors (DES) measure deformations or pressure. Their application potential is quite versatile:

  • 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


Our 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


Further information

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


Expert information

Supersmart Project

© K. Selsam-Geissler, Fraunhofer ISC

Digitalization, “Internet of things”, and “Industry 4.0” demand for ubiquitous sensing and communication elements. Printed electronic components allow one to reduce the cost per function and to process components in High-Throughput production schemes. The goal of SUPERSMART project is the industrialization of high-performance key materials in order to secure the electronic material supply chain.

Read more about Supersmart Project.