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iThemba LABS signs MOU with NMISA

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.


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.

CGS16 Symposium in Shanghai China

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.

Innovation Bridge Exhibition

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.

Funding of the GAMKA consortium

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.

The Innovation Technology Event

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.

30 Year Celebrations

A formal event celebrating 30 Years of Operation of the SSC is being planned for 13 October.  The Honourable Minister Ms Naledi Pandor will attend.   Staff members will be able to watch live streaming of the formal programme.  A mini-conference will also be held to celebrate the achievements of the SSC.

National Science Week activities

National Science Week (NSW) is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) which is a countrywide celebration of science involving various stakeholders and/or role players conducting science-based activities during the week.  iThemba LABS participated in the following ways:

Career sessions and hands on workshops were held both onsite and offsite for high school learners. Staff members made presentations on career opportunities.

Post Graduate students from iThemba LABS visited shopping malls in Khayelitsha, Eerste River and Blue Downs, interacting with the general public while also handing out information pamphlets about iThemba LABS.

Physics students from the Universities of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch visited iThemba LABS to expose them to research and career development opportunities.

Physics lecture at Stellenbosch University

Dr Faïҫal Azaiez presented a lecture for the SU Science Faculty on 7 August, during National Science Week, titled ‘Nuclear Physics: the core of matter, the fuel of stars’.
This is part of a collaboration with the Natural Sciences Student Committee at SU, who had a photo shoot at

iThemba LABS in January 2017 to promote themselves on campus. Future collaboration with the Natural Sciences Faculty is envisaged.

Dr Faïҫal Azaiez and Naomi Haasbroek with some of the NSC members on 7 August.

China-South Africa Joint symposium on nuclear physics

The China-South Africa Joint Symposium on Nuclear and Accelerator Physics was held at the iThala Game Reserve on 5-7 August. It was the fourth in the series of meetings, alternating every two years between China and South Africa, celebrating an ongoing and widening collaboration that had its beginning over ten years ago, between the universities of Stellenbosch and Beijing. It has been a very successful collaboration producing a number of publications in high-profile journals, the most recent featured on the cover of Physical Review Letters. Previous meetings were held at Beijing, Stellenbosch and Weihai. This meeting was co-hosted by the University of Zululand, Stellenbosch University and iThemba LABS. It was attended by 24 South African and 15 Chinese delegates. The talks covered a diverse range of topics in nuclear and accelerator physics, from the latest developments in instrumentation, detection of radiation, decay studies, cluster models, g-ray strength functions, low-spin nuclear structure and high-spin structure including chiral bands, stapler bands and umbrella bands!

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