Dr Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi, CEO NMISA; Dr Faïҫal Azaiez, Director iThemba LABS; Dr Molapo Qhobela, CEO NRF on Friday 13 October 2017 when an MOU between National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) and iThemba LABS was signed.
Over the past year the Department installed, commissioned and trained staff on the PinAAcle 900Z Series Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AA) and the Optima 8300 Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectrometer (ICP). This state-of-the-art equipment is used in the quality control (metal analysis) of the radiopharmaceuticals which gives us the capabilities to perform a specific metal ion detection limit of less 0.01 µg/L in analysis volumes of 1-10 μL with the AA and 0.1 – 100 µg/L in larger analysis volumes (ml) with the ICP, in other words detecting metals in samples at very low levels of 10-6 to 10-9 grams. The completion of this project formed part of the continuous maintenance and upgrade plan of the facility to ensure Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliance.
The second two weekends in September were very successful at the AFRODITE facility with the Investigation of the Classic Shape-coexistence and Transitional Nuclei of 148Sm and 150Gd by researchers at the
University of the Western Cape (JF Sharpey-Shafer) and University of Zululand (S Ntshangase) This continues the systematic study of the region of Segrè chart where many of the spins and parities states remain uncertain. The AFRODITE facility, recently upgraded to include the new fast-timing array, was used to detect the gamma-rays from the nuclear states and to reveal more about the structure of these nuclei.
Light heavy-ion coincidence scattering experiments on the “C” line at the iThemba LABS AMS Department in Gauteng have just received a considerable shot-in-the-arm due to the implementation of a new CAMAC-based data acquisition (DAQ) system. The system is controlled by the ROOT and MIDAS software on a Linux platform developed by iThemba LABS staff. This new DAQ will service the needs for ongoing basic nuclear physics experimentation on the Tandem C-line in the years to come.
One of the top AMS experts worldwide will visit the AMS Department in October, namely Professor Keith Fifield, from the Australian National University (ANU).
The main goal of the NANOSMAT-2017 conference was to establish an international event where talented and truly international scientists belonging to academia, industry, or other public, or private, institutions, will meet and exchange novel ideas, share new knowledge and technical know-how in the broad fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The NANOSMAT was characterized for being the first truly cross-disciplinary conference, where scientists coming from many different countries and having different expertise in chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine, biology, can strongly interact to each other, discussing science at a top level in an informal and friendly atmosphere. A Special Session: NanoAFRICA was held on September 12, where participants discussed the central questions of the conference to prepare their contributions to the event. A delegation from the MRD Nanoscience Group participated in the event.
Physicists from the Subatomic Physics Department represented iThemba LABS at the 16th International Symposium on Capture Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy and Related Topics. Experimental work from the K600 and AFRODITE facilities to study properties of the atomic nucleus, which help answering long standing questions on how elements are formed in the universe, were presented. The expansion of the detection capabilities (ALBA, fast timing and upgraded AFRODITE array) at
iThemba LABS were also advertised to the physics community.
Postgraduates from the Centre of Applied Radiation Sciences & Technologies (CARST) of the MMabatho campus of North West University spent 18-22 September 2017 at iThemba LABS for training in applied radiation biology.
The 11 postgraduates received lectures and did practical work to assess cellular radiation damage using cytogenetic methods. They also participated in an experiment with DNA uptake of 123-I labelled deoxyuridine – a compound used to study the biological damage of very short range Auger electrons.
iThemba LABS exhibited at the Innovation Bridge technology event held on 15 September in Midrand. Many technology-based companies, entrepreneurs, research institutes, science councils, financiers, and public and private sector representatives attended the exhibition. A number of distinguished guests were also in attendance including the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, and the former President and NRF CEO Dr Khotso Mokhele. The Innovation Bridge exhibition proved to be a great platform to showcase the various technologies that have been developed at iThemba LABS. There was a lot of interest from other technology companies and the general public on the work being done at iThemba LABS.
Following an intensive and rigorous review process involving international experts, the National Research Foundation has awarded R35 million to the GAMKA consortium led by the University of the Western Cape and with iThemba LABS, and the Universities Stellenbosch, Witwatersrand and Zululand as consortium members, to fund gamma ray detectors that will be placed at iThemba LABS. This is the first time that a single award of this size was made and is the culmination of a process that was initiated by our users back in 2010.
With this award we will finally be able to complete the AFRODITE array to the original goal of 16 of Germanium gamma detectors and be able to complete an array called ALBA (African Lanthanum Bromide Array), a new initiative consisting of 23 large LaBr3 detectors. These detectors can also be arranged into an array that will simultaneously provide unprecedented energy resolution and efficiency (LaBr) for the measurement of gamma rays. Used with the high resolution k600 spectrometer for charged particles, we will have a unique and very competitive experimental facility that will enable cutting edge research and will ensure that post-graduate students from all the user communities are trained on world-class equipment.
iThemba LABS will be exhibiting at The Innovation Technology Matchmaking and Showcasing Event, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that is aimed at enabling linkages and networking between South African and international innovators, industry and public and private technology development and commercialisation funding partners. It is taking place on 15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.