News Archive




  • Plasma processing presents an environmentally friendly, versatile and cost efficient method to modify materials surfaces. A recent open access publication considers the cost structure and resource efficiency of plasma processes related to industrial applications: Plasma Process Polym. 2022, e2200022;

  • Our laboratory developed a unique technique to melt-spin filaments with a liquid core. At the moment we focus on three potential fields of applications: remote stress and strain sensors, microhydraulic elements within very restricted space, and fragrance-releasing fibers for improved ambience. First industrial upscaling trials are very promising. Recently, our liquid core fiber made it to the front page of the Empa annual report; read more here
  • Efficient roll-to-roll production technologies for more climate neutrality
    For a climate-neutral economy, every opportunity must be exploited to reduce energy requirements and use resources efficiently. Highly efficient industrial processes are a key element in this. To this end, in the R2R-Net network, 18 European partners from industry and research, including Empa, are further developing reel-to-reel systems and processes that are used in production in a variety of ways. Companies benefit from the expertise, the support during scale-up and ramping up of the production, and the technical exchange. On September 7, 2021, the partners will present current developments, success stories and novel production equipment in a workshop. The network is open to additional partners.
    For more info, please contact: 
  • A data river runs through it
    Data and signals can be transmitted quickly and reliably with glass fibers – as long as the fiber does not break. Strong bending or tensile stress can quickly destroy it. An Empa team has now developed a fiber with a liquid glycerol core that is much more robust and can transmit data just as reliably. And such fibers can even be used to build microhydraulic components and light sensors...more
  • In our recent work we have developed formaldehyde free flame retardant treatment of cotton.
    The treatment not only survives 50 laundry cycle but also leaves the comfort of the textile unaltered.
    The new treatment is versatile, antimicrobial properties in addition to enhanced fire performance could be combined to develop a multi-functional material.



  • We have developed a simple one-pot synthesis process for manufacturing functionalized mesostructured silica nanoparticles (MSNP). These particles contain high specific surface area and phosphonic acid groups which are able to remove anionic pollutants like methylene blue.
  • Novel alkyl sulfone bridged phosphorus compounds namely were synthesized via a Michael addition reaction and melt-processed with polypropylene( PP). The PP films exhibited excellent flame retardant behavior.
  • We recently published a review that provides an overview of the most important developments in the emerging area of photoluminescent polymer optical fibers, together with a description of the key parameters describing their performance and efficiency in applications like light harvesting, sensing, color illumination, anti-counterfeiting, and random lasing:

  • On December 9, 2020, Konrad Jakubowski has successfully defended his PhD at the Materials Department ETH Zürich. In his work, he studied the materials science and optics of polymer optical bicomponent fibers under the addition of photoluminescence. We congratulate this great achievement, which was performed completely online, followed by a small PhD-hat hand over in the hallway.

  • ·  On December 1st 2020, Ezgi Bülbül has successfully defended her PhD at the Materials Department ETH Zürich. In her work, she studied the incursion of water molecules into a nano-structured plasma polymer coating, which is of scientific and technological relevance. We congratulate this great achievement, which was performed completely online, followed by a small PhD-hat hand over in the hallway.

Plasma polymerization using hexamethyldisiloxane (HMDSO) is revisited providing the fundamentals for a macroscopic approach based on averaged quantities only depending on electron temperature, Te, and energy invested per monomer, Epl, with respect to a threshold energy, Eth, observed for activation reactions. As an important advancement, this approach thus combines plasma physics and plasma chemistry.
Contact: Dr. Dirk Hegemann,
More information (author = Hegemann):

  • Facile strategy to flame retard epoxy resins

    In this work, we have combined silica nano-composites and an Empa developed non-toxic gas phase active flame retardant to improve the fire performance of epoxy material cured with an aliphatic hardener. Flame retardation of such epoxy resins are very challenging. however, our approach enabled us to obtain non-dripping V0 rating in UL 94 test (highest classification).

  • Verstehen wir wie PO2-Radikale aus Organophosphorverbindungen entstehen?

    PO2-Radikale werden als sehr wichtig beim Prozess der Flammeninhibierung und der Treibstoffkatalyse im Flugzeug angeschaut. Jedoch war bis jetzt nicht klar, welche chemischen Vorgänge effektiv zur Bildung der PO2-Radikale führen. In unseren kürzlich veröffentlichten Arbeiten konnten wir durch experimentelle Daten und Simulationen, Phosphorzwischenprodukte und deren Reaktionswege identifizieren, welche zur Bildung von PO2-Radikalen führen.

  • Origin and destiny of micro plastic fibers

    We have participated in an Empa study of B. Nowak and in an Eawag study of D. Mitrano, which assess the origins of micro plastic fibers released during the textile washing process, as well as their fate in a wastewater treatment plant. The remarkable result shows that a large portion of wash-released fibers are already produced and embedded in the textile during the production process. It was also shown that most of the released micro plastic fibers are retained in a wastewater treatment plant.
    Schmiedgruber, M., R., et al.
    Frehland, S., et al.
    Cai, Y., et al.
    Cai, Y., et al.

  • The Plasma & Coating group actively participates in the recently founded R2RNet network:
    21 European partners from industry, research organizations and universities are pooling their expertise in the continuous functionalization of surfaces in the roll-to-roll process. Our knowledge on upscaling of plasma processing as well as the available pilot-plant reactors are highly regarded to enable transfer to industry.

  • We developed luminescent melt-spun fibers, which can enhance the performance of solar cells. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we analyzed the impact of dye solubility in polymer melts on the resulting optical properties.

  • Rudolf Hufenus is guest editor of a special issue of Materials (impact factor 2.972), entitled "Novel Synthetic Fibers for Textile Applications". Submission to this open access journal are very welcome (deadline 31 December 2020).

  • Fragrant liquid-core fibers

    We have developed fibers that release the scent of roses or cloves – permanently. What's more, the liquid-core fibers can also be equipped with other active ingredients.

  • Honour for Dirk Hegemann
    Dirk Hegemann has been appointed "Editor-in-Chief" for the journal Plasma Processes and Polymers from 2020 on after acting for two years as "Co-Editor-in-Chief". Congratulations! (January 2020)

  • Update on Empa developed flame-retardants

    A joint research with Bruag AG has led to the development of new class of P-N flame-retardants for application in wood-based materials. Empa developed EDA-DOPO flame retardant is now Reach registered. /web/s604/eda-dopo-reach

  • HYDRO_BOT: The skiing jacket that keeps you dry. A membrane embedded within conductive textile layers effectively transports sweat away from the body using electro osmosis. Coatings developed by Advanced Fibers enable electrical conductivity and wettability required for the success of the technology.

  • 80 plasma scientists and industrial researchers from 15 different countries met for the 5th International Workshop Plasma Science & Interfaces 201 at Empa St. Gallen on 18th/19th October 2018, to discuss latest results in the field.
  • Functional clothing that allows you to sweat without feeling wet:
    The exploitation of electrically activated pumping through textile layers is going to be used forski jackets.
  • In our recently published article in the Nature journal “scientific reports” we could verify the hypothesis that water confined inside a gradient polymer matrix can orient and thus generate a collective dipole field, which is significantly extending over many nanometers.