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The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » November 28, 2013
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Shedding New Light on Lasers
November 28, 2013   
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Researchers from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw have joined a European Union project in which scientists are teaming up with industry with a view to developing new optical technology.
he 1.5-million-euro project is called MINIMODS and aims to develop miniaturized modules for the measurement of laser pulses and for optical frequency conversion. The two-year project is financed under the European Union’s 7th Framework Program.

The project will be conducted by research institutions commissioned by companies operating in various EU countries. This is the first time University of Warsaw researchers are part of such a project.

The MINIMODS project involves four companies: M-Squared Lasers from Glasgow, Scotland, a leading player on the market for narrow-band and broadband sapphire lasers; Germany’s Laseroptik, a manufacturer of advanced optical coatings and filters used in laser technology; Switzerland’s Time-Bandwidth Products, which produces sources of ultrashort laser light pulses (with pulsewidths in the range of femtoseconds to picoseconds); and Spain’s Radiant Light company, which designs, manufactures and sells optical frequency conversion systems (it offers products including femtosecond optical parametric oscillators and harmonic generators).

All these companies have for years been dealing with the design, production and sale of modern optical devices such as lasers. Each company, in addition to collaboration with the science sector, has its own R&D department for upgrading and testing products. However, these companies also outsource research work to external research institutions. This is where the scientific partners of the project—the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in Glasgow and the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Physics—step in.

The Glasgow-based Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics was established several years ago and is modeled after similar centers operating for several decades in Germany. These research and development institutes are financed in equal part with funds for work commissioned by industry, government subsidies and external grants.

At the University of Warsaw, the project will be carried by a team of young researchers led by Piotr Wasylczyk, Ph.D., from the Institute of Experimental Physics. The team is part of the Laboratory of Ultrafast Processes, which was founded in the 1990s by Prof. Czesław Radzewicz, when Poland’s first lasers capable of producing extremely short light pulses were created. Over the years, the laboratory has developed unique laser systems and measurement techniques for the diagnostics of light pulses. For some time, the lab has also been using laser light to study material at the molecular level. Now this experience will be used to develop miniaturized modules for the measurement of laser pulses and for optical frequency conversion. The collaboration with industry offers hope that the new designs will be put to practical use and soon appear on the global market for advanced optical technologies—rather than just remain on paper in specialized journals.
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