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Institute of Physical Chemistry

The Centre of Excellence SURPHARE operates within the structure of

Institute of Physical Chemistry
of the Polish Academy of Sciences
44/52 Kasprzaka Street
01-224 Warsaw, IPCh PAS

The main building; entrance.

General Information

      Establishing the Centre of Excellence in the area of surface engineering in Poland enables intensification of the personal contacts and integration with other scientists. The basic aims of the initiation of the SURPHARE were to enhance the network co-operation with other institutions and to strengthen the links between centres working in the field of surface science. The Centre intends to raise competence of the workers and become the leading institution attracting top scientists and young people.

      Surface science and surface engineering have been developed since early sixties at the last century. Fast development of these fields was stimulated by progress in vacuum technology. Surface science and surface engineering include studies on formation of surfaces with defined chemical composition, structure and physical parameters as well as studies on phenomena and chemical reactions at surfaces. The results make it possible to select the technology to obtain materials with well defined surface parameters.

      Surface phenomena on the boundaries of solids, liquids and gases play an important role in industrial technology and their recognition can influence engineering projects. The processes important in industry and technology include chemical catalysis, corrosion protection, power industry (fuel and solar cells), processing of plastics, modern electronics of integrated circuits, industry of machine design, and systems of specific detection (membrane microsensors leaning on the modern selective receptor systems).

      Finding out mechanisms of the physicochemical processes, running under known thermodynamic conditions at the phase boundaries, is the way to control the formation or modification of the surface with well defined properties. In order to obtain them it is necessary to carry on the studies applying large set of experimental and theoretical methods that allow characterisation of the surface as well as monitoring and describing the processes running on them. The set of apparatus include: Auger electron spectroscopy AES, photoelectron spectroscopy UPS and XPS (ESCA), infrared spectroscopy IR, isotherm desorption spectroscopy IDS and thermally stimulated desorption TDS, atomic force microscopy AFM, scanning tunnelling microscopy STM, low energy electron diffraction LEED, X-ray diffraction.

The main problems the Centre is engaged in are:

Institute co-operates with industry in performing evaluations, designing the apparatus and working up the technological methods.

      These objectives are realised by organising international conferences and workshops, and by exchange of scientists. Scientists and PhD students are sent to other institutions for training and for gaining experience in the advanced research techniques, and also researchers from other institutions are accepted in the Centre for training and for a joined study in the area of surface science.

      The conferences and workshops are devoted to surface phenomena occurring during corrosion, to the characterisation and modification of surfaces for the enhancement of their catalytic activity and the ability for selective sensing of chemical species. A work is also conducted to strengthen the co-operation on standardisation and quantification of surface science techniques.

Management and administration

      The Centre is managed by Prof. Janusz Flis, head of the Electrochemistry and Corrosion Department of the IPCh, supported by the International Advisory Board, Coordination Board, and Task Leaders. The entire Centre is also supervised by the Directorship of the Institute whose part the Centre remains.

Prof. Janusz Flis
Janusz Flis
Coordinator of the Centre
Prof. Janusz Lipkowski
Janusz Lipkowski

Management structure of the Centre
Management structure of the Centre

      The International Advisory Board consists of five members - the Director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry - Prof. Janusz Lipkowski and four Professors from the European scientific centres:


      The surface region of solids has growing importance in different areas of technology, including the design of catalysts, modern microelectronics, polymers, corrosion science and engineering, advanced materials for new process technology and for engineering structures. Research in this area requires a multidisciplinary approach and a sophisticated instrumentation. Owing to the high cost of the equipment for analysis and modification of surfaces, a research should be conducted jointly by the organisations with appropriate experts and equipment. Accordingly, the main objective of this Project is to promote scientific co-operation with laboratories which are equipped with specific instrumentation.

Innovative character

      The innovation offered by the Centre consists mainly in the intensive dissemination of knowledge in the field of surface science, and in standardisation of measurement techniques. The emphasis will be put on surface analysis, surface modification, characterisation of surface processes, and on presentation of advanced research techniques. This will be achieved by organising scientific symposia and workshops. The work will be performed on standardisation and quantification of surface science techniques. Great effort will be put for training young scientists in using advanced techniques for surface characterisation and modification.


      The proposed activities of SURPHARE are presented in seven Work Packages WP1-WP7.
      Four packages WP1-WP4 involve scientific meetings - in total five conferences and workshops will be organised during three years. The aim of these meetings is to provide information on new advances in science related to surface, to share experience in the modern experimental techniques, and to trace out proposals for the joint research in the near future. Internationally renown scientists from European and other countries will be invited to the conferences and workshops to teach and pass their knowledge to students. Young scientists will be strongly encouraged to participate in the meetings.
      Work Package WP5 is foreseen for strengthening a co-operation on standardisation and quantification of surface science techniques, whereas Work Package WP6 will concentrate on training of Centre's scientists and PhD students by co-operation with internationally renown laboratories. Work Package WP7 will involve the management of the Centre.


Conference „Advances in Corrosion Science and in Applications”; main themes: - Surface modification for corrosion protection; - Modern surface analytical techniques in corrosion science”
Zakopane, September 2003
Person responsible in the Centre: Prof. Janusz Flis


Conference „New methods of modification of reactivity of amorphous and nanocrystalline materials”
Warsaw, Summer 2003
Persons responsible in the Centre: Prof. Stanisław M. Filipek and Prof. Maria Janik-Czachor


Workshop on morphology of surfaces and interfaces in soft matter: fundamentals and applications.
Jadwisin, Summer 2003
Person responsible in the Centre: Dr Anna Maciołek.


2nd International Workshop on Surface Modification for Chemical and Biochemical Sensing, SMCBS'2005.
Kazimierz Dolny (Poland), November 6 through 10, 2005.

1st International Workshop on Surface Modification for Chemical and Biochemical Sensing, SMCBS'2003.
Białowieża (Poland), November 13 through 16, 2003.

Person responsible in the Centre: Prof. Włodzimierz Kutner


Strengthening of co-operation on standardisation and quantification of surface science techniques.
Person responsible in the Centre: Prof. Aleksander Jabłoński


Training of scientists and PhD students in surface science methods.


Management and co-ordination of the Centre
Person responsible in the Centre: Prof. Janusz Flis

International attraction

      Results are presented at many national and international conferences and symposia, they are published in scientific journals and as monographs; some results are applied in industry. Interdisciplinary attitude of the IPCh to science requires a large co-operation between the Departments and with other research centres. Active participation of the scientists from the Institute in international events attracts other centres for co-operation.

      Every year more than 100 scientists from Europe, America and Asia visit our Institute. Majority of visits is connected with the participation in conferences and symposia. Many scientists from Europe and other continents collaborate with the Institute by giving lectures and conducting studies. Our high-standard equipment stimulates foreign researchers to perform experiments in our Laboratories.

      SURPHARE leads the long-term co-operation with scientific institutions in Europe and on other continents. The Centre carries out studies within 11 international and national research projects. It collaborates with industry plants, such as power stations and refineries. Competence of the scientists and good knowledge of foreign languages (English is spoken by almost all the researchers; German, French and Russian are less popular) enable the researchers from the Institute to co-operate with institutions in other countries.
      The professionals co-operate with many various university departments, industrial laboratories, and individual plants in Poland and more than 30 in 14 European countries, mostly in Germany and France, within programs of State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN).

Scientific and technological quality

      Development of the surface science on the world, especially in past decades, caused enhancement of interest of this field of science also in the Institute. New research techniques, taking advantage of modern equipment, were introduced. The group of scientists engaged in studies on reactions and chemical or physical properties of the surface increased. Recently, scientists from eight departments of IPCh make the works on surface. Our laboratories are equipped with the high quality, unique apparatus.

Economic development and scientific/technological prospects

      One of the aims of the Centre is to extend the present contacts and make new ones with scientists and researchers from Eastern Europe countries. This is especially productive in the subject of hydrogen degradation (close co-operation with Russia and Ukraine).

Diversity of funding

      The annual budget of the Institute grew from about 2.5 Million Euro in 1996 to about 4.5 Million Euro in 2001. Although the biggest source of the budget is the statutory funding, the evident growth of other sources (especially in the years 2000 and 2001) indicates the enhancement of the attractiveness, dynamics and flexibility of the Institute.

      The majority of the additional sum – about one third - comes from the national projects. Considerable growth is observed in the economic activity and in the activity of specialised laboratories, indicating the intensification of the collaboration with industry and scientific institutions.