From the Publisher
April 29, 2014
Over the years we at The Polish Science Voice have become used to journeying into the future and exploring the boundaries of science. Some of the projects we report on are so ambitious that they seem to be science fiction. It turns out, however, that the future is often closer than we think.
One example is a surgical robot designed by Paweł Kostka, Ph.D., a biomedical electronics engineer at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, southern Poland. Kostka heads the TeleRobinSurgery project, which aims to develop new technology for remote surgery. His robot, which can be used not only in medicine, but also in industry, can accurately mimic a surgeon’s movements. At the same time it provides a surgeon with all the data needed to carry out the most difficult procedures—even when he is physically far removed from the operating theater. Though this project has a science fiction feel, such a robot already exists. Researchers and doctors from the Foundation for Cardiac Surgery Development in the southern city of Zabrze have built a range of heart surgery machines collectively known as the Robin Heart. Practical and cost-efficient, these robots can successfully compete with the most modern Intuitive Surgery devices developed in the United States. The prototypes of the Polish robots have proved successful during experimental operations on animals. The Polish project, which began in 2012 and is now at its halfway point, is the most advanced of its kind in Europe.
New medical technology is not only about robots. Graphene, the revolutionary new material that may soon be used in fields ranging from medicine to space hardware, could also play a key role. A sizable group of Polish scientists and engineers are working on various applications of this wonder material, and The Polish Science Voice has been regularly tracking their efforts. In this issue, we focus on graphene as a component of power cables. This application could help eradicate losses occurring during the transmission of electricity and could thus help solve the problem of power shortages and blackouts. One of the reasons for these losses are the power lines through which electricity is transmitted. Prof. Tadeusz Knych from the University of Science and Technology (AGH) in Cracow, southern Poland, heads a team of researchers who have set out to develop a new material that will be based on graphene combined with either copper or aluminum. Simply put, the new cables will make it possible to transmit more electricity with smaller losses. An additional benefit of this project—which is being financed by the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) together with cable producer Tele-Fonika Kable and power grid company Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne—is that it involves graphene produced in Poland by the Warsaw-based Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME) according to its own patented method.