Biofilms and hygiene

Microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria are omnipresent in nature.  They play an essential role in natural material cycles and are thus of elementary importance for the continued existence of ecosystems. Microorganisms are used industrially in food technology or for the production of antibiotically active substances for pharmaceuticals.

On the other hand, bacteria and fungi cause considerable damage when they occur as contaminants in production and have a negative effect on products. They can also cause technical problems because materials are destroyed or equipment is turned unusable due to microbial growth. Examples include damage caused by fungi in old buildings, deterioration of heat exchanger efficiency due to biofilms, and microbial-induced corrosion damage.

Enormous efforts are also being made in the health sector to prevent the growth of biofilms on natural surfaces such as dental material, but also on synthetic materials such as implants, catheters or medical devices – mainly because of high costs in the event of damage to humans.

At Fraunhofer IGB, we have been working for several years on issues involving the interactions between microbial cells and surfaces. We also have the technical expertise to characterize biofilms and surfaces and to develop individual approaches to prevent bacterial deposits.


Detection of microorganisms

Standardized conventional and specially established methods are used for the detection and identification of bacteria and fungi.


Biological characterization of antimicrobial surfaces

We characterize and develop antimicrobial surfaces.


Biofilms – characterization and avoidance

Where biofilms are unwanted, we support you!

Interfacial biology and hygiene

  • Prevention and use of biofilms
  • Microbiological evaluation of surfaces and components in medical engineering, construction, technical applications, hygiene
  • Immobilization of microorganisms on surfaces
  • Localization of microbial contamination and biofilms in production streams
  • Identification of the composition of biofilms
  • Immobilization of microorganisms on surfaces
  • Inactivation and/or reduction of microbial cells by antimicrobial surfaces, photocatalytical processes, plasma sterilization, UV treatment, ultrasound or filtration processes
  • Use of signalling molecules for biosensor applications


Microbiological evaluation

  • Evaluation of microbial impurity on surfaces (e.g. of medical devices, in hygiene and construction) and in production-integrated media (e. g. water)
  • Testing of antimicrobial properties of specially coated surfaces
  • Selection and cultivation of test organisms to evaluate modified surfaces
  • Development of methods for special demands and new requirements


Development of test procedures and innovative materials

  • Creating procedures to minimize the microbial and chemical load in various sectors (e. g. sterilization processes, elongation of retention times for cleansing baths, process water treatment, cost-efficient recycling of production-integrated media, wastewater treatment)
  • Development of innovative materials to reduce the formation of biofilms affecting packaging supply, pipelines, medical equipment and / or for the design of antimicrobial work spaces


  • Microbiological laboratories with modern equipment as well as an appropriately qualified team permit the handling of microorganisms in the risk groups 1 and 2.
  • Activation units are available for the examination of photocatalytically finished surfaces, in which a biological characterization of the specimens can be carried out under defined conditions.
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods of measurement to compare different materials and products.
  • Methods for the evaluation of the adhesion properties and the biofilm formation under static and dynamic conditions.

Test organisms

  • Test organisms of risk groups 1 and 2: Bacteria, fungi, algae (e.g. Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aspergillus niger, Scenedesmus spec.)
  • Mixed populations typical of the location: cell wall composition, well-known resistances, genetically determined metabolic properties
  • Use of microorganisms with specific requirements (e.g., anaerobic cultivation conditions, methanotrophic bacteria)
  • Genetically modified strains of relevant organisms for applications in biosensor development (e.g. producing fluorescent proteins)


  • Raman spectrometer with 532 nm, 785 nm laser and CARS technology
  • Biofilm reactoren (e.g. CDC, Drip flow, … ) 
  • Individually designed flow cells
  • Fluorescence microscopy (ZEISS Axio Observer Z1)
  • Sy-Lab BacTrac 4300 for quantitative determination of bacteria
  • Quantitative real time CR (qRT-PCR LightCycler 480)
  • Identification of microorganisms using DNA barcoding (bacteria via 16S, fungi via ITS)
  • Real time impedance analysis (ACEA xCELLigence) for investigation of active agents against biofilms
  • Tecan Infinite 200 PRO
  • Screening processes
  • Standard procedures for evaluating antimicrobial properties of surfaces according to DIN EN ISO standards
  • Culture-based test procedures
  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
Raman spectroscopy and microscopy.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Raman spectroscopy and microscopy.
Raman spectroscopy and microscopy
© Fraunhofer IGB
Raman spectroscopy and microscopy.

We analyze ...

Confocal Raman microspectroscopy enables spatially resolved identification of chemical, biological and mineral components in complex heterogeneous samples.


Raman spectroscopy and microscopy

Information materials

Brochure “Microbiological characterization of antimicrobial and photocatalytic active surfaces”

Product sheet “Biosensors as alarm systems for drinking and process water monitoring”


Lukas Kriem M. Sc.

Contact Press / Media

Lukas Kriem M. Sc.

Water Technologies and Resource Recovery

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4212

Fax +49 711 970-4200

The Stuttgart Competence Center for Processing Media (PM)

The Stuttgart Competence Center for Processing Media (PM) for forming and machining – metal working fluids, forming fluids, minimum quantity fluids, multifunctional oils – puts decades of experience at your service.


Cooperation partner: Fraunhofer IPA and Fraunhofer IGB