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Welcome to iThemba Laboratories for Accelerator Based Sciences (LABS)

Africa’s leading research facility for accelerator based science that is committed to:

  • advance knowledge,
  • transform lives and,
  • inspire a nation

by probing fundamental structure and the origins of matter, advancing the understanding of condensed matter, and impacting the societal need through provision for the health and environmental sector.

iThemba Laboratories for Accelerator Based Science (LABS) is committed to invest in the growth and development of scientific and technical talent, with a special focus on creating opportunities for women and designated communities. iThemba LABS provides laboratories within which particle accelerators (linear accelerators and cyclotrons) are exploited as research tools to probe the nature, structure and properties of matter and materials, and to produce radioisotopes that can be used for diagnostics, imaging and therapy in nuclear medicine applications. The biggest accelerator is the 200-MeV Separated Sector Cyclotron (SSC) that is fed by two solid-pole cyclotrons used to pre-accelerate the projectiles before injection into the SSC. The cyclotron currently provides in the needs of two user communities, namely nuclear medicine and the (fundamental and applied) nuclear physics research community.
The establishment of the South African Isotope Facility (SAIF) in 2022 will signal the dawn of a new dispensation where all beam-time from the SSC will be devoted to applied and fundamental nuclear physics. In addition, iThemba LABS has two laboratories dedicated to research at the atomic scale using particle beams from a 3-MV Tandetron (Tandetron Lab) and a 6-MV Tandem accelerator. The 6-MV Tandem accelerator is located in Johannesburg and equipped with an Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS)-facility for a variety of applications such as climate, archeology, and cultural heritage to name a few.
A detailed laboratory portrait was recently published in Nuclear Physics News (See iThemba LABS Portrait). The most recent Highlights and Achievement Report (2019-2021)  provides a detailed overview of major achievement in recent years.

The Science Engagement activities are aimed at creating an awareness and appreciation of the value and contribution that science has made (and continues to make) to the development and growth of key competencies and literacies linked to the pursuit of the scientific endeavour. iThemba LABS has established the SAINTS (Southern African Institute of Nuclear Technology and Sciences) as an umbrella to coordinate all science engagement and training interventions linked to its core business.

It is important to highlight that iThemba LABS is not a conventional facility when compared to other facilities of similar size across the world. With the recent history of South Africa, the landscape for research and technical skills is still in a developing phase, and the mission of iThemba LABS has education and training as one of its main areas of focus in addition to creating a unique research environment. Catering, as it does, to training of postgraduate students and young research scientists from both South Africa and the rest of the African continent, iThemba LABS presents a truly unique, cosmopolitan, and multicultural research environment.

Latest Publication

iThemba LABS Highlights and Achievements Report (2019-2021)

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The Long-Range Plan was drafted in 2017 and gives expression to iThemba LABS’s vision for the next 10 years. The plan is built on FOUR pillars, namely the Southern African Institute for Nuclear Technology and Sciences (SAINTS), the South African Isotope Facility (SAIF), the Gateway to International Research Infrastructure (G-iRi) and the Technology and Innovation Platform (TIP).
These pillars are KEY strategic objectives that support the facility’s research, education and training agenda. iThemba LABS’s vision is to improve the lives of ALL South Africans and to contribute to a BETTER world through the pursuit of basic science and innovation.
This report provides valuable feedback on the progress that has been made with regard to the Long Range Plan, and also communicates important milestones that have been reached.
Read more …

iThemba LABS Video

At the very tip of Africa lies the largest accelerator facility in the Southern Hemisphere and the only cyclotron facility on the African continent offering unique research capabilities to local and international researchers. iThemba Laboratories for Accelerator-based Sciences is a national facility of the National Research Foundation, and located at sites in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. It brings together competence and skills within a multidisciplinary environment to advance knowledge, transform lives and inspire a nation. The research, expertise and training are enabled through particle beams that are delivered by three accelerators namely the Separated Sector Cyclotron, the Tandetron and the Tandem.
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COVID-19 update:

iThemba LABS operations are limited under COVID-19 lockdown regulations
For any covid-19 related issues / queries please contact:

Latest News

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South African Isotope Facility (SAIF)

iThemba LABS Highlights

iThemba LABS Greeting Card