Material analysis for maritime applications


In the context of sustainable use of the oceans, Fraunhofer IKTS is working on environmentally friendly and durable ceramic materials for sensors, bearing and wear components as well as coatings for maritime applications. On the one hand, this allows the service life of products to be extended through greater corrosion and abrasion resistance and improved antifouling behavior. On the other hand, the leaching of harmful substances can be avoided and their input into the environment reduced. In addition to the material properties, we take into account relevant environmental parameters, such as oxygen content, UV radiation, pH value, flow velocity or temperature during material development, which are recorded simultaneously.

In order to precisely determine the influence of these parameters, we take advantage of the possibility to store and subsequently analyze coatings and components under real maritime conditions at our site in Rostock. This ranges from material testing in closed systems (mesocosm) to field tests in the Warnow estuary or directly in the Baltic Sea. For this purpose, we are establishing and validating new measurement and characterization methods tailored to maritime conditions. Surface analysis is of particular importance here, because the interface is subject to the strongest influences and therefore, largely determines the durability of solids (in the maritime environment). Consequently, we pay special attention to the determination of morphology (surface topography and internal microstructure in the near-surface area) and chemical composition. We have numerous analysis and measurement methods at our disposal for this purpose:

Analysis and measurement method

Determination of

Statement on


Contact angle measurement

Wetting behavior and surface energy

Hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity

Relevant for the interactions with the organic and anorganic contents of the surrounding water.

Zeta potential measurement

Surface charge

Electrostatic repulsion or attraction

SEM analysis/light microscopy

Topography and morphology

Detailed surface structure

Confocal laser scanning measurement method

Topography and roughness

Integral surface structure

SEM analysis/cross section

Microstructure of layers and porosity


EDX/RFA/XRD analysis

Element determination,
crystal structure

Chemical composition


Protein determination according to Bradford

Protein attracting or -repellent properties



On the basis of this comprehensive material characterization, we can then make statements on application behavior and service life as well as solidly assess (environmental) risks. Based on this acquired knowledge, adjustments follow that lead to a newly developed material. The aim here is to develop a surface that is adapted to its environment and field of application, and can thus fulfill the desired properties, such as improved corrosion and abrasion resistance or antifouling behavior (Material development for maritime applications).

Services offered


  • Development and optimization of ceramic materials for sensor, bearing and wear components as well as coatings in maritime applications
  • Tests under real maritime conditions in our testbeds (mesocosm, estuary, offshore)
  • Metrological monitoring of the retrievals
  • Establishment and evaluation of new analytical methods for component and layer characterization
  • Evaluation of operational behavior and service life
  • Damage analysis
  • (Environmental) risk assessment

Test equipment and test infrastructure


  • Mesocosm in laboratory setting
  • Testbed in the Warnow River
  • Testbed in the Baltic Sea in the Digital Ocean Lab (DOL)
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Contact angle measurement via captive bubble method to determine hydrophilicity and surface energy on an alumina coating.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Roughness measurement for the determination of the topography of a ceramic coating.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Cross-section of an alumina coating to determine the coating thickness and porosity.