The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - November 2, 2015
The Polish Science Voice
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From the publisher
Polish scientists are helping revolutionize the way the world is lighted. They are also contributing to the production of next-generation electronic and optoelectronic devices such as cell phones with built-in laser projectors and hi-tech laser headlights in cars. This technology involves the use of a chemical compound called gallium nitride. And Polish scientists have a way with this tricky semiconductor material.

Researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Pressure Physics in Warsaw are working to improve their pioneering method of growing gallium nitride crystals. This compound is now the basic material used in the production of pinhead-sized blue lasers, which read compact discs in Blu-ray players and video game consoles. Gallium nitride crystals offer hope for the development of a new breed of laser projectors that will be so small that it will be possible to build them into various devices, such as laptops, mobile phones and watches. The technology will also make it possible to ultimately reduce computers to the size of a pen.

With time, projectors for displaying videos and photos will appear in every mobile phone, says the institute’s Prof. Michał Leszczyński, who is also deputy CEO of technology company TopGaN, a spin-off from the Institute of High Pressure Physics.

According to Leszczyński, lasers based on gallium nitride semiconductors make up a huge industry worth more than 10 billion euros in annual sales. “In the future, lasers based on nitride semiconductors—green, blue, and ultraviolet—will create entirely new markets, including those for laser projectors and laser televisions,” he says.

For now, the Warsaw researchers are producing such lasers on a laboratory scale. “We are in for a major step up from 10,000 to 5 million units a year,” Leszczyński says.

In another potentially groundbreaking project with great business potential, an innovative Polish company called Mokate hopes to create a revolution in the food industry by bringing to market a new type of food concentrate in a capsule and a machine for turning these concentrates into healthy juices, soups and meals. The machine resembles a coffee maker and makes it possible to produce a glass of juice, soup, milk, hot chocolate, tea, and even an alcoholic soft drink from a capsulated concentrate.

As part of the project, Mokate aims to provide consumers with semi-finished food products in capsule form, which is expected to help bring down transport costs, says the project manager, Marek Tarnowski.

Food concentrates are widely used in the food industry, but they have not yet reached the consumer market, Tarnowski says, adding that consumers should be able to make their own foods in the comfort of their homes. “Why do they need a food processing company to step into the picture?” he asks.