Identifying industrial application fields for CERN’s high technologies

18. Februar 2020

Wintersemester 2019 - CERN

The benefit of fundamental research for industry: Identifying industrial application fields for CERN’s high technologies*

Project overview

High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPIMS) is an advanced coating technology that is currently used to the radiofrequency cavities of CERN’s particle colliders. Although this technology offers advantageous benefits compared to common coating techniques, the number of industrial applications is rather low, which results in slow technological progress and high costs of HiPIMS coatings. The aim of this project, therefore, is to identify and analyse potential application fields for HiPIMS to ultimately increase industrial adoption.


First, a technology description outlines the technological aspects of the project by giving an overview of HiPIMS and its important characteristics. 30 interviews with leading experts of HiPIMS and literature research are the sources of information.

The following part, on which this project focuses on, follows the methodology of Technology Competence Leveraging. This systematic four-step approach is an effective method to identify potential application fields for existing technologies without the need for technical in-depth knowledge. The objectives and sub-goals of the TCL method are (1) the identification of the core benefits of the technology, (2) discovering potential application fields with a need for these benefits, (3) analyzing the possible alternative industries and (4) the development of a profound exploitation strategy for the technology (Keinz and Prügl, 2010). Since the scope of this project focuses on the first three steps, the fourth step of the Technology Competence Leveraging method is not included. The theoretical methods and tools pyramiding, brainstorming, expert interviews and customer discovery interviews as well as the extensive knowledge of user communities are used to gather information.


The expert and current user interviews conducted as part of the first step resulted in three core benefits of HiPIMS. They are used as the foundation for the next step, identifying potential application fields.

  1. Possibility to coat complex 3D-structures

  2. Thinner, more precise coatings

  3. Longer lasting coatings


Based on these core benefits 9 industries comprising 28 potential application fields are identified by using individual and group brainstorming and utilizing specified user communities. The most promising application fields are evaluated by assessing the so-called Benefit relevance and Strategic fit, which combined result in an overall score that indicates the fit between HiPIMS, the needs and constraints of CERN and the respective application field. This analysis lead to four promising application fields in the medical, sports equipment and industrial industry, which were further analysed regarding their market characteristics.

Cooperation Partner

  • CERN
    Esplanade des Particules 1
    1211 Geneva 23

Contact Person

  • Dr. Johannes Gutleber

Student team

  • Fuchs Samuel

  • Grech Florian

  • Wolf Erik

  • Zsilavecz Tobias

Supervisors /Lecturers

  • Linn Kretzschmar, M.Sc. (EASITrain ESR at WU)

  • Tuong Vi Sophie Quach, MA

*This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement EASITrain No 764879.

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