Lasers are sparking Poland’s photonics future
As far as science in Poland is concerned, Nicolaus Copernicus may forever
be the center of the universe, but many luminous researchers orbit that center
centuries after the great astronomer’s passing.
WARSAW, Poland – Germany, the UK
and France may get the lion’s share of
photonics-related business in Europe, but
other corners of the continent are getting
their piece of the growing pie. Poland is
no exception, with a slowly developing
photonics landscape that builds on suc-cesses in laser, fiber optic and optoelectronic technologies.
The Polish tradition in photonic technologies goes back as far as the early 19th
century, with advances in photography and
metrology supporting research into geodesy, the science of the shape of the Earth.
Currently, the optoelectronics industry is
among the leading lights of research and
manufacturing in Poland.
“Optoelectronics has been on the rise in
Poland for several years, reflecting a dy-
namically growing Polish economy,” said
Dariusz Litwin of the Institute of Applied
Optics (INOS) in Warsaw. “Though this
sector is not yet very large compared to the
industry input as a whole, the fact [is] that
almost each branch of industry needs opto-
electronics components, including meas-
urement and quality control systems.”
Several Polish research institutes, aca-
demic groups and commercial firms are
involved in optoelectronics, and new labo-
ratories are being built, Litwin said. Fur-
thermore, various industries are increas-
ingly likely to use research achievements
in commercial applications.
On the academic side, at least 10 major
technical universities in Poland have full
courses in photonics leading to doctoral
degrees, said Ryszard S. Romaniuk of the
Warsaw University of Technology. The
total funds given over to photonics research infrastructure by the Polish government thus far is about €100 million (
approximately $138 million), he added.
“The importance of photonics is much
better understood by industry than by our
government or academic ‘authorities,’ ”
said Krzysztof M. Abramski of the Wroclaw University of Technology in western
Poland. “The ‘old electronic lobby’ blocks
The Polish Free Electron Laser promises to ignite future photonics research and development. Courtesy
of the Andrzej Sołtan Institute for Nuclear Studies.
Notable Photonics Companies
the development of photonics and opto-
The influence of nonphotonics groups is
felt at the universities, said Abramski, who
has long worked in laser technologies. He
cites the case of one of his more popular
courses, “Applied Electronics and Opto-
electronics,” having been removed just
this year from the program at his univer-
sity because of strong lobbies. “It is very
disappointing and frustrating,” he said.
Among the organizations mostly outside
the academic fray is Optoklaster, a photonics cluster with headquarters at INOS.
According to Litwin, the companies that
belong to Optoklaster manufacture optical
and optoelectronic elements, semiconductor lasers, medical instruments and laser
equipment for industry. The engineering
and scientific staff affiliated with the
cluster have expertise in optics, solid-
Amber Ltd. – lasers and accessories
Awat Ltd. – optoelectronics
Eurotek International Ltd.
– lasers and accessories
Korporacja Wschód Sp. z o.o.
– infrared sensors
Bumar Zołnierz SA (formerly
Przemysłowe Centrum Optyki SA)
Solaris Laser SA – laser marking
Vigo System SA – infrared sensors