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Centre of ExcelleNce for nanophotonicS, advancEd Materials and novel crystal growth-Based technoLogiEs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENSEMBLE3 (Centre of ExcelleNce for nanophotonicS, advancEd Materials and novel crystal growth-Based technoLogiEs)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-03-31

Overall objectives. The grand objective of the project is to create an autonomous Centre of Excellence ENSEMBLE3 (e3) with excellence in research and great innovation potential in the area of crystal growth-based technologies, novel functional materials with innovative electromagnetic properties, and applications in nanophotonics, optoelectronics, telecommunication, medicine and photovoltaics. The ENSEMBLE3 CoE will build on the best of (i) nanophotonics and medicine-oriented research of the University of Warsaw (UW); (ii) research and development in the area of crystal growth and innovation practices at the Lukasiewicz - Institute of Microelectronics and Photonics, IMiF, (previously: Institute of Electronic Materials Technology, ITME); and (iii) the technology transfers via existing companies and new spinoffs. This is a straightforward way to create a research excellence centre, just at the border, where the most advanced science and its practical utilization meet. ENSEMBLE3 is a not-for-profit limited liability company acting as a scientific unit created in strong partnership with leading institutions in the field with complementary expertise: (i) the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany with its research excellence in controlling the flow of light at an unprecedented level utilizing three-dimensional structured materials; (ii) the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy with its research excellence in theory and experiment of linear and nonlinear optics, especially of complex materials; and (iii) the Cooperative Research Center nanoGUNE Consolider, Spain with its excellence in optical near-field nanospectroscopy and nanoscopy, nanomaterials and nanofabrication. The increase of scientific capabilities gained through the Teaming partnerships will enable ENSEMBLE3 to be successful in receiving competitive funding in international forums; achieving a measurable and significant improvement in terms of research and innovation culture; self-sustainability, and sustained excellence provided by stable long-term agreements with the advanced partners; and help the Mazovian region and Poland to attain a competitive position in the global value chain.

ENSEMBLE3 will build on the strengths of Polish science and technology - where historically crystal growth is a very important field, famously developed by prof. Jan Czochralski whose crystal growth method remains the most widely-used technique for manufacturing single crystals of semiconductor and other compounds such as silicon and germanium.

Czochralski crystals are used in everyday life - every person having a computer, mobile phone or other optoelectronic/electronic device has a small piece of a Czochralski - grown crystal placed in the device.

By developing novel crystal growth-based technologies and novel materials with new/enhanced
electromagnetic properties (i.e. plasmon enhanced), new research paths will be created, at the same time enabling the application of developed materials in nanophotonics, optoelectronics, telecommunication, medicine, photovoltaics, and photoelectrochemistry.

*The project acronym, ENSEMBLE - a unit or group of complementary parts that contribute to a single effect – aptly describes both the objective of the project (creating novel predictable and controllable effects/properties/functionalities from an engineered material obtained by the organization of its different components), as well as the mode of achieving this objective (i.e. through the joint efforts of several institutions and an interdisciplinary group of scientists with complementary expertise). In ENSEMBLE3, 3 stands for 3 interconnected research subjects: nanophotonics, advanced materials, and novel crystal growth-based technologies; 3 leading partners and 3 polish partners; and excellence, efficiency, and economy.
The project activities from the beginning of the project (October 1, 2019) until the end of the second reporting period (March 31, 2021) were focused on the following areas:

- formal establishment of a new legal entity which constitutes the instututional framework for CoE's operations, i.e. ENSEMBLE3 sp. z o.o.
- recruitment of key staff for the Centre of Excellence, including top management, research group leaders, researchers, laboratory technicians and administrative staff; at the end of RP2 the CoE employed 29 scientists and 25 support personnel,
- developing the complete set of internal regulations, procedures and policies that define how the Centre of Excellence operates,
- securing the infrastructure needs of CoE regarding laboratories and rooms for scientific and administrative work by concluding appropriate lease agreements and carrying out the necessary renovations and adaptations,
- acquisition of scientific equipment enabling the implementation of the assumed research agenda (over 150 devices) thanks to the in-kind contribution received by CoE from the IMiF and supplementary purchases financed from national funds,
- acquiring the remaining resources necessary to start operating activities (IT hardware and software, office equipment, contracts with external service providers),
- establishing first ties by CoE research teams with scientific and industrial partners in the country and abroad, including submission of first joint project proposals,
- commencement of commercial activities in the field of sale of crystalline materials.
Expected results and potential impacts. The major impact of the project is the creation of the new ENSEMBLE3 Centre of Excellence in Warsaw, Poland. In detail, the impact will be in: (i) increasing the scientific capabilities of the ENSEMBLE3 CoE and its scientists through the Teaming partnerships; (ii) through increased scientific capabilities enabling greatly improved chances for winning competitive funding in international forums such as Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe or ERC programmes; (iii) the CoE achieving a measurable and significant improvement in terms of research and innovation culture enabled by collaboration with excellent advanced Teaming partners of the Centre; (iv) due to increased scientific capabilities of the new CoE helping the Mazovian region and Poland to engage in a strategic growth path pointing to long-term opportunities for economic development; (v) increasing the impact of the ENSEMBLE3 CoE in terms of sustained excellence through projected measurable key performance and output related indicators. Also, for successful implementation of the project, close collaboration among the Partners is essential. This collaboration will be an excellent medium for the training of young researchers and Ph.D. students.
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