The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - August 28, 2015
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Institute of Physical Chemistry: 60 Years of Research
The Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physical Chemistry in Warsaw is marking 60 years in existence.

Over the past six decades, the institute’s scientists have been working to gain a closer insight into various chemical and physical processes and into ways of putting these to practical use.

Established in 1955, the institute has more than 300 employees today. Their research is more than 50 percent financed by grants from both domestic and European institutions, including the European Research Council.

“We are proud of our scientific past,” said Prof. Robert Hołyst, director of the institute, at an event marking the anniversary. “It is very important to us because it has shaped us over the years. But the future is what counts most.”

Hołyst said the focus should be on what scientists leave behind for their children and grandchildren. “If we teach them some good habits, with time we will create a creative environment that will sooner or later nurture a Nobel Prize winner,” he said.

Institute employees include Prof. Zbigniew Grabowski, winner of the “Polish Nobel Prize,” an award from the Foundation for Polish Science, for developing a method for generating particles that has made it into photochemistry textbooks around the world.

The institute’s interdisciplinary research in chemistry, physics, biology and materials science is conducted in modernized laboratories and in a new laboratory building. The institute is home to the Mazovia Center for Surface Analysis, one of Europe’s best-equipped laboratories for the study of phenomena occurring in the outermost atomic layers of materials.

Every year scientists at the institute, organized into groups that include both experienced professors and up-and-coming researchers, report their findings in about 200 science publications, including top-notch global journals. These successes would not be possible without the efforts of more than 70 doctoral students and about 100 university students actively involved in the institute’s research.

In addition to basic research, the institute has pursued applied research for years. It has enlisted a number of industrial partners including some of the world’s largest corporations, such as South Korea’s Samsung, Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals, and the British-Dutch giant Unilever.

The ChemiPAN Experimental Plant operating out of the institute is well known throughout Europe and worldwide for its production of substances that influence the behavior of insects and pest.

The institute is also home to two hi-tech companies dealing with micro-flow technology. They were founded in late 2011 and early 2012 just after new regulations enabled the Polish Academy of Sciences to spin off companies from its institutes.