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This is the fourteenth time that the National Center for Research and Development has awarded grants under the Leader program. This year, Wroclaw scientists will receive a total of nearly PLN 9 million for their research.

The awarded projects are in various fields. Photonics is the focus of Dr. Dorota Stachowiak, cosmetology is the focus of Dr. Agnieszka Krawczyk-Lebek, emergency medical services is the focus of Dr. Tomasz Kisiel, ecological construction is the focus of Dr. Slawomir Czarnecki, and corn grain processing technology is the focus of Dr. Ewa Pejcz.

To make lasers not so sensitive

The grant with the highest value was awarded to Dorota Stachowiak, PhD, from the Department of Electronics, Photonics and Microsystems at the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology. The researcher intends to develop new technologies for manufacturing optical fiber components for advanced applications in photonics.

The main goal of the project, and at the same time a response to the current demand in photonics, is to develop universal technologies for manufacturing fiber-optic components with the possibility of customization.

Dorota Stachowiak, Ph.D.

The problem of currently used commercial laser systems is their sensitivity to external factors: temperature changes, vibrations or pollution. A completely fiber-optic design of these systems would solve these problems.

The research will contribute to the development of photonic systems, which are used in medicine, metrology, telecommunications, micromachining, quantum technologies and even space exploration.

To put the goodness of plants to use in medicine

The project of Dr. Agnieszka Krawczyk-Lebek of the Department of Food Chemistry and Biocatalysis at the University of Life Sciences is entitled "Chlorine atom flavonoid glycosides as multifunctional natural preservatives in cosmetic formulations".

The researcher has been working on flavonoids for many years. She is mainly interested in them for their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.

- In the context of civilization and epidemic diseases spreading worldwide, as well as the spreading antibiotic resistance of many strains of pathogenic bacteria, the search for new active, biologically active compounds has become a necessity," emphasizes Dr. Agnieszka Krawczyk-Lebek.

I am convinced that the flavonoid derivatives I obtained have great potential for the development of new drugs and dietary supplements.

Dr. Agnieszka Krawczyk-Lebek

An unmanned ship that saves lives

In turn, Tomasz Kisiel, Ph.D., from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, thanks to the received grant, will develop a rapid response system providing a defibrillator to provide first aid to a person suffering sudden cardiac arrest in a much shorter time than the arrival of a medical rescue team.

The result of our work will be the construction of a prototype medical rescue system consisting of an unmanned airframe and a hangar providing autonomous takeoff and landing.

Tomasz Kisiel, Ph.D.

The plan is to use an unconventional design for the flying wing of the unmanned aircraft. It allows the use of only two engines to provide progressive movement and keep the unmanned aircraft in hover while lowering the defibrillator.

To make snacks healthier

The project of Dr. Ewa Pejcz from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Analysis at the University of Economics is titled "Technology for processing colored corn grain to produce a gluten-free raw material with high nutritional and functional parameters".

In her research, Dr. Ewa Pejcz focuses on using colored corn, which is rich in natural antioxidants, to produce healthier snacks, such as crisps.

Colored corn kernels contain anthocyanins, carotenoids and flavonoids, known for their potential anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects. New technologies used in its processing are expected to preserve these properties.

Dr. Ewa Pejcz

The project involves research into the suitability of colored corn varieties for the production of snacks using technological modifications. The study of raw materials, intermediates and products will include, among other things, their rheological (i.e., resulting from subjecting them to stress) and chemical properties. This will allow the selection of technological solutions optimal for the production of healthy corn crisps and wafers.

To make sidewalks and paths environmentally friendly

The grant also went to Dr. Slawomir Czarnecki of the Department of Civil Engineering. The researcher plans to develop a technology to produce fine-dimensional 100 percent recycled building components for making sidewalks and bike paths.

- I want to reduce the carbon footprint and life-cycle costs of these structures. The developed manufacturing technology will be applicable to regional waste management companies, which increases the project's commercialization potential. In this way, a global problem will be able to be solved by local action, potentially reducing the cost of transporting such material," explains Slawomir Czarnecki, PhD.