Photonics industry thriving in Poland

Photonics industry leaders at SPIE Remote Sensing and SPIE Security + Defence 2017 paint a vibrant picture of Poland's optics and photonics industry.

14 September 2017
Stephen G. Anderson

SPIE Remote Sensing logoWARSAW, POLAND — Optics and photonics companies employ about 10,000 people in Poland, according to Adam Piotrowski, vice-chair of the Polish Technological Platform on Photonics and CEO of infrared-detector manufacturer Vigo System S.A.

Piotrowski, who provided an overview of photonics in Poland, painted a bright picture of photonics there during his opening presentation at the joint industry program of the SPIE Remote Sensing and Security + Defence meetings in Warsaw. Piotrowski said that Poland's 40 "pure photonics companies" currently generate 10 billion Polish Zloty (PLN) (or US$2.78 billion) in annual sales, with lighting and medical applications dominant. The two applications together account for almost 75% of sales, he said.

Later, in a different talk, Vigo co-founder Józef Piotrowski noted that the company is celebrating its 30th year in 2017. Along with some history, he gave a detailed review of the company and a look at many of its products.

Also offering a company profile with a detailed look at key products was Krzysztof Chrzanowski of Inframet, another Poland-based firm that specializes in self-calibrating test equipment for electro-optic surveillance systems.

photo from SPIE meeting in Warsaw Sept 2017
From left, Adam Piotrowski, Ana González, Johannes Koeth, Thierry Robin, Stephen Anderson

In a review of the mid-IR sensing and imaging marketplace, Thierry Robin of Tematys outlined a growing market for IR devices. The global IR systems market is currently worth about $5.8 billion annually, he said.

Robin detailed key applications and relevant trends, noting, for instance, that while today's market for IR detectors in the life sciences is "practically nonexistent" an emerging application is optical coherence tomography (OCT). He says OCT will grow into significance over the next few years.

Two other presentations during the SPIE industry program focused on lasers. Work on mid-IR cascade lasers was described by Johannes Koeth of nanoplus Nanosystems and Technologies. He showed recent laser performance data and gave application examples of interband cascade lasers, including real-time formaldehyde monitoring of the international space station and an automated alcohol detection system for drivers of cars.

In the other laser-focused presentation, Stephen Najda of Warsaw-based TopGaN discussed development of gallium-nitride-based sources and their commercial potential. Development of GaN material has a long history in Poland, he explained, dating back to the early 1980s.

The company has recently developed a novel epitaxy process that enables better control of the nitride growth. Potential applications of next-generation GaN lasers include underwater data transmission and projection displays as well as quantum technologies, he said.

In other talks, Ana González, dissemination manager of the EU's MIRPHAB Pilot Line, gave an update on the project, which includes several companies from Poland. Her presentation sparked some heated discussion as some in the audience expressed frustration with how the project is structured.

Roland Schwarz of Austria-based Riegl offered a look at bathymetric profiling using a drones-based lidar system.

Overall, the industry program was well received and provided a useful overview of commercial photonics activities in Poland as well as some related activities within Europe. Attendees praised both the content and the networking opportunity.

More news and photos from the September 2017 SPIE Remote Sensing and SPIE Security + Defence meetings

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