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Research University - Warsaw University of Technology

Photonic Technologies

(English subtitles available)

Global and local challenges

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons and underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones, laptops, the Internet to medical instruments and lighting technology. The 21st century depends as much on photonics as the 20th century depended on electronics. Being one of the most important fields of modern science and innovative technology: it stimulates many applications in manufacturing, medicine, communication and entertainment, security, quantum metrology allows the creation of a wide range of sensors for various chemical and biological materials.

Many modern-day technologies are largely based on photonics. Optics and photonics are the science and application of light. Specifically, photonics generates, controls and detects photons – light quanta to advance manufacturing, robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense technologies, biometric security, image processing, communications, astronomy and much more. Photonics technologies are lighting our future by solving the challenges of the modern world. It enhances our quality of life; safeguards our health, improves safety and security; and drives economic growth, job creation and, global competitiveness.

Photonics technologies are indispensable for powering the future digital economy and will underpin as yet undiscovered advances in many other sectors such as health, space, mobility, and security. As an essential Key Enabling Technology (KET) of Europe, photonics is a crucial "building block of the next digital revolution" that will happen in the next few years. Today, the European Photonics industry (mainly SMEs) is fast-growing and thriving: there are an estimated 5000 companies that have created more than 300,000 highly skilled jobs in this sector alone with an annual turnover in excess of €60 billion and the European photonics industry is growing four times faster than the European GDP.

Photonics technologies are key enablers for future mega-markets such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, quantum technologies, healthcare and additive manufacturing among others. With a significant cost of the IoT systems relating to sensor subsystems, the photonics security, and metrology and sensors community is at the heart of this transformation. Since an increasing number of sensors will need to integrate with the IoT, the future of "embedded photonics" in IoT, smartphones, tablets and other industrial products will be carefully examined.

Photonics technologies will become increasingly embedded in future products and services because they are often the only means of achieving specific performance requirements; but even where there are competing technologies, the photonics solutions tend to be faster, more accurate or precise and use radically less energy.

Scientific excellence

In 1920, Professor Mieczysław Wolfke (1883 –1947) a Polish physicist and a professor at the Warsaw University of Technology, presented the world's first concept of holography and since then he has been known as the forerunner of holography. Since 1963, when first Polish He-Ne lasers were constructed (at both: the Military University of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology) and then, since the appearance of Polish optical fibers in 70’ of the XX century, Warsaw University of Technology has pioneered research activates in optics and photonics and has proven its scientific excellence in the specific subfields of optics and photonics as:

  • Laser technologies,
  • Holography as well digital and synthetic holography,
  • Optical fibers and photonic sensors,
  • Optical information processing,
  • Optical measurements in applications to industrial and manufacturing control,
  • Quantum and nonlinear Optics,
  • Terahertz technologies.

For many years, there has been a strong collaboration in the field of photonics between Warsaw University of Technology and numerous leading international universities and research institutions across the world.

Professors of WUT have been holding key positions in photonics organization both at global level such as SPIE-The International Society for Optics and Photonics (President 2005), ICO (International Commission for Optics, vice-president 2002-2008), European Photonics Platform Photonics (vice-president 2005-2016) as well as national level:

Polish Technological Platform on Photonics (Board members) and Photonics Society of Poland, (President since 2008 and 4 Board members) levels. Moreover, Photonics Society of Poland has been co-located from the very beginning (2008) at the Warsaw University of Technology.

The Warsaw University of Technology has been participated in European Framework Programs (FP) in photonics since 5. FP to HH 2020 as: NEMO (Network of Excellence in Microoptics), ACTMOST, ACTPHAST 4.0, ACTPHAT4R, Real3D (holographic displays), SPOTS, SMARTHIES (research platform MEMS/MOEMS), PARADIGM (photonics technologies), PICs4All (photonics chips), ERA-Net MATERA (photonics materials).

Research plans

Priority research area (POB) "Photonics technologies" at the Warsaw University of Technology will be focused on design and manufacturing of optical components and novel photonic materials as well on the development of innovative technologies and measurement methods in the following areas:

  • Fiber optic photonics,
  • Laser and terahertz technologies,
  • Photonic integrated circuits,
  • Optoelectronic devices and systems,
  • Photonic sensors and metrology,
  • Multispectral image processing.

In the field of "Photonics technologies", the Warsaw University of Technology will achieve significant progress in the next 6 years:

  • Excellence in photonics research,
  • Excellence in teaching – 30 % increase of international photonics students,
  • the Warsaw University of Technology will become a leading European university in the field,
  • the Warsaw University of Technology will explore new fields of photonics,
  • more than 100 papers in the most renowned journals – increase of 30%,
  • more than 100 national and international projects – increase of 30%,
  • more than 10 international patents,
  • at least 6 new start-ups will be launched.

Education

An important area for the future of photonics is the education and training of the next generation of professionals. Students education and training in photonics and photonics engineering has been realized within the frames of such international programs as TEMPUS, ERASMUS Mundus Master (OpScTech) as well based on bilateral agreements with: VUB (Belgium), Tech. Univ. Eindhoven (NL), Univ. Franche-Compte (France), Univ. of Quebec - UQO (Canada), NTU (Singapore), ITMO (St. Petersburg, Russia).

The Warsaw University of Technology is the only university in Poland which since 1964 has offered at Mechatronics Faculty studies in the specialization "Optics Instruments", and since 2005 r. the 1st cycle and 2nd cycle studies taught both in Polish and English in the specialization Photonics Engineering). In 2012 WUT’s Faculty of Physics opened the unique in Poland Photonics direction at both levels (BSc. and MSc.) What is more, PHOTONICS (at the Faculty of Physics) is the only direction of these particular studies at Polish universities taught exclusively in English. The level of foreign students in photonics at Warsaw University of Technology is about 20% (BSc), 15 % (MSc), and 5% (PhD).

Photonics laboratories at Warsaw University of Technology are very well equipped with specialized instruments for more than 180 million PLN (~ €43 million). This creates an additional asset for both high-level R&D activities as well as top-level education and training to successfully and innovatively exploit the great potential that photonics technologies have to offer.

Human capital

Strongly motivated photonics staff of the Warsaw University of Technology encompasses around 100 researchers distributed within four faculties (Electronics, Physics, Mechatronics, and Chemistry); including 10 full professors, 20 university professors, over 40 assistant professors with PhDs and over 40 PhD students. The photonics staff is highly recognized both in the domestic and international landscape, i.e. half of the SPIE-The International Society for Optics and Photonics Fellows (6/12) and OSA (Optical Society of America) Fellows (1/2) from Poland are affiliated at the Warsaw University of Technology.