Monthly Archives: March 2017

Visitors: from the ALICE Group

The SA-ALICE group from the subatomic physics department will be hosting Dr Guy Paic (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) for a month, starting from February 25th, 2017. Dr Paic will give a series of lectures on Heavy Ion Physics at UCT and will also present a colloquium at iThemba LABS. The colloquium dates will be advertised soon!

International Masterclasses at iThemba LABS

During the coming weeks, high-school students around the world are invited to nearby research institutes and universities for a day-long programme to experience life at the forefront of basic research. These International Masterclasses give students the opportunity to become particle physicists for a day. During a Masterclass, participants work with data from experiments at CERN ́s Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, under the supervision of physicists. The Masterclasses this year are organized for March 1 through April 11 and will attract students from 52 countries worldwide. THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL MASTERCLASS EVENT, WILL TAKE PLACE AT ITHEMBA LABS ON APRIL 1ST, 2017. iThemba LABS has invited 48 learners from various high schools around the City of Cape Town. Dr Zinhle Buthelezi is looking forward to the event: “The students love the program. They are excited to work with real data from the LHC and to talk to physicists at CERN.”


Low-energy Rare Isotope Beam (LERIB) project

The LERIB Front End containing the ion source and target assembly was delivered from Legnaro, Italy and assembled in the RIB Off-line Laboratory in S- block where initial tests will be conducted with 50 keV stable beams. A short analysis beam line is being constructed as well. Once completed, the off-line laboratory will be used to serve the LERIB project as far as beam transport, ionisation techniques, target development and system testing is concerned.

The preliminary design of the new 850 m2 building for the LERIB project is now taking shape and negotiations have already started with external service providers to assist with budget preparations and detail design. The building will be constructed on the north-eastern side of the accelerator complex between the main accelerator hall (A-block) and the hospital buildings. A 66 MeV proton beam delivered from the SSC via the P-line will be the driver for the LERIB project.

Figure: LERIB Building

Figure: LERIB Front End

3 Mega volt Tandem accelerator, the “Tandetron” installation

The Materials Research Department of iThemba LABS is proud to announce that their new 3 Mega volt Tandem accelerator, the “Tandetron” with its digitally sophisticated beam transport system, has now been successfully installed, tested and declared operational up to the point of commissioning. Just the sight of this hi-tech equipment in the beautifully revamped vault where the old Van de Graaff beamlines used to be, is very overwhelming and to some extent intimidating by the looks of it.

On 28 February 2017, around 4pm, the first analysed beam (1.4 MeV protons) was delivered to the last faraday cup on the beamline, measuring a very stable beam current after the 90 degree analysing magnet on the high energy side, proving an 80% efficiency for the Tandetron. This stability and efficiency was measured with both low as well as high intensity beam injected into the Tandetron, which in total took just under one hour to achieve. The highest current measured after the analysing magnet on the high energy side was 111 micro amps. This is a great achievement and assurance for the remainder of tests to follow… so a big thanks to everyone who contributed in making this “dream” of the MRD and of iThemba LABS become a reality. We can all feel very proud.

Watch this space for more smiles…

High-level Assessment of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance

For the first time ever and in accordance with the Environmental Risk Plan of the National Research Foundation, the NRF SHER function headed by the RISK Manager Mr Hannes Greeff, conducted a Compliance Audit at iThemba LABS on Thursday and Friday, 02 and 03 March 2017.

Objectives of the audit

The objective of this review was to perform a high-level compliance assessment of the current processes and documentation that are in place at iThemba LABS against the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ACT No. 85 OF 1993) and associated Regulations.

Scope of the audit

The scope of the review mainly included:

  • A Review of the documentation relating to the Occupational Health and Safety programme at iThemba LABS and assessing compliance against the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ACT No. 85 OF 1993)
  • Conducting a workplace safety tour, housekeeping check and interviews with relevant individuals at iThemba LABS to confirm status


This audit reviewed 22 key points of adherence to legislation. A planning and scoping session (desktop review of documentation) took place after an opening meeting with the Safety Management Team. This was followed by a Workplace Safety Tour. A closing meeting with the Director of iThemba LABS, Dr Faiҫal Azaiez and the Business Manager, Mr Vincent Spannenberg, took place on Friday where the Director was informed by Mr Hannes Greeff of our excellent results of 97%. This result is in line with previous audit results conducted by other external auditors and clearly shows that high standards are being consistently maintained.