THE INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES was established on 24th September 1953 by a special Government decision. It was rooted in the physics faculties of seven universities: Warsaw University and Warsaw Technical University, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan', Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun', as well as the University and Technical University of Wroc?aw. The Institute was relying on their research staff, premises and laboratory facilities. The Institute was established as a country-wide scientific institution conducting research in all areas of experimental and theoretical physics, including educational obligations. The first director of the Institute, Prof. Stefan Pien'kowski, and the first chairman of its Scientific Council, Prof. Leopold Infeld, were the most prominent physicists of that time in Poland. Since the establishment of the National Agency for Nuclear Energy in 1955, the nuclear physics has ceased to constitute a part of the research program of the Institute. Those units of the Institute which were specifically active in this field (the Departments of Radioactive Isotopes, Elementary Particles, and Nuclear Physics in Krakow) formed the kernel of Nuclear Research Institutes. The fast rate of development of the Institute has led, in the course of years, to the formation of independent research units grown on its basis. In 1975 the Department of Ferromagnetics, Department of Dielectrics, together with the Radiospectroscopy Laboratory created in 1966 in Poznan', became incorporated into the Institute of Molecular Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Wroc?aw branch of the Institute became a part of the Institute of Low Temperature and Structural Research, of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute of Physics was also the founder of the Department of Solid State Physics in Zabrze. The industrial, high-tech centers of the Academy of Sciences, such as ''UNIPAN'' (specializing in scientific electronic instruments) and ''WILMER'' (humidity meters), as well as the High Pressure Research Center ''UNIPRESS'', are also rooted in the Institute.
In September 2003 the Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary. On this occasion the achievements of the Institute were recognized by the Academy and State authorities: 28 of our scientific and technical staff were decorated by various state medals.
Of course, the close connection to the universities determined the initial research activities of the Institute. In particular the pursued fields encompassed:
Atomic and molecular physics studied originally in the Department of Optics and X-rays of the Institute, as a continuation of the work directed earlier by Prof. Stefan Pien'kowski (the first director of the Institute of Physics) at Warsaw University. Research in this field is still conducted in the Division of Radiation and Spectroscopy. Nowadays, several groups in this Division are dealing with atomic and molecular spectroscopies as tools and methodology of investigating fundamental problems in physics as well as in the interdisciplinary areas from the borders between physic, chemistry and/or biology.
Solid state physics has been developed in two main areas:
- physics of semiconductors - research in this field has been initiated at Warsaw University already in 1947 by Prof. Leonard Sosnowski (director of the Institute between 1954-66) and it remained always one of the main activities of the Institute. One of the most outstanding achievements of the Institute in this field were related to the studies of semimagnetic semiconductors (SMS), known alternatively as diluted magnetic semiconductors (DMS). The name SMS was coined by Prof. Robert R. Ga?šzka in the late seventies of the last century, when the investigations on these materials were initiated in the Institute. At present the main effort of the studies has shifted from the traditional II-VI DMS to their low dimensional heterostructures and the ferromagnetic IV-VI and III-V DMS, in close relation to future spintronic applications. In this lively area the Institute remains to be one of the leading research centers in the world. This is a result of cooperative effort of four Institute Divisions (Division of Semiconductor Physics, Division of Solid State Spectroscopy, Central Laboratory Low-Dimensional Structures and Central Laboratory of Cryogenic Research) but, first of all, is due to the availability of good quality DMS samples, obtained by the crystal growers in the Institute, either by different ?conventional? methods or by MBE growth, which is often supported by electro nanolithography.
- physics of magnetics - the subject was first introduced by Prof. Szczepan Szczeniowski in the Department of Ferromagnetics of the Institute of Physics created in 1953 in Poznan'. In the main branch of the Institute in Warsaw, the studies on this subject were started in 1970, when two groups dealing with magnetism were transferred to the Institute of Physics from the Institute of Electron Technology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. These studies are continued in the Division of Physics of Magnetism, which now concentrates its investigations on magnetic properties of materials exhibiting colossal and giant magnetoresistance, superconductors, nanoscopic magnetic structures and biological structures.
The Institute of Physics achieved its present structure and moved to the location at Al. Lotników under the directorship of Prof. Jerzy Ko?odziejczak (1970-1981). Presently, the Institute employs over 300 people and is composed of four scientific divisions, three laboratories and the cryogenic unit running the Institute?s own helium and nitrogen liquefiers. The Institute of Physics in Warsaw is now a very active center. In the last 10 years more than 3000 articles in internationally recognized scientific magazines were published by authors affiliated in the Institute. Many of our researchers are chosen as members of international scientific organizations, committees and are often invited to give talks at international conferences. The Institute collaborates with many institutions all over the world, including the best European, American and Japanese research centers. In the last 3 years more than 20 international research projects were granted and have been carried out in the Institute ? most of them with the financial aid of the EC. The wide international cooperation of the Institute resulted in year 2000 in establishing in the Institute European Centre of Excellence ? CELDIS. In 2002 two other Centers of Excellence were formed ? ASPECT and CEPHEUS. In recognition of all these achievements, in 2001 the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences was awarded the ?Crystal Brussel?, a prize given to the institution, that in the best way took advantage of the European Commission funds in the frames of the EC 5th Framework Programme. Recently, in April 2004, the Institute was again nominated to this award.