SAIF is iThemba SA-LABS’ flagship project.
A major strategic intervention that will forever alter the landscape of accelerator based physics research in South Africa and on the African continent.
The benefits from the project will be realised through the:
Increase in beam time availability for research (capacity will increase by a factor of three);
Development of new research fields and applications including:
o Research into new and innovative solutions for cancer treatment and early diagnostics;
o Fundamental research into sub-atomic physics to obtain an understanding of the
astrophysical origin of the elements;
o Radiation hardness testing for the space sciences;
o Research into the development of nano-materials; and
o A doubling of the number of post- graduates supported by the facility.
Increased radioisotope supplies for both the local and international hospitals and medical
iThemba LABS has embarked on a recapitalization program, the overall objective of which is to safeguard the long-term sustainability of Africa’s most unique Accelerator Based research facility. The Southern Hemisphere’s epicentre of accelerator infrastructure, iThemba LABS currently sees its long-term sustainability secured through the realization of four strategic pillars, namely SAIF, SAINTS, TIP, and IRI-G.
The first pillar, SAIF (South African Isotope Facility), is dedicated to research infrastructure renewal whose accomplishment is geared to achieve the twin objectives of increase in radioisotope production and research on the one hand, and the freeing up (on the other hand) of beamtime from the 200 MeV Separated Sector Cyclotron which will be dedicated for sub-atomic physics research and applications.
Whereas all the four pillars are of central importance for future sustainability of iThemba LABS, the establishment of
SAIF is viewed as initially the most critical, not least because its first and second phases of establishment require
initially the most substantive quantum of capital outlay. The first phase of SAIF is centred around the acquisition of a 70 MeV Cyclotron to enhance research and production of radioisotopes for nuclear medicine; with the concomitant
benefit to free-up more beam time for subatomic physics research and applications. The significant capital investment as well as the funding plan required to initiate the first phase of the SAIF project has now been approved by the NRF board and supported by the South African Government; setting in motion a process which will culminate with a dedicated 70 MeV Cyclotron and its associated beam lines installed at iThemba LABS by year 2022.
Acquisition of Cyclone® 70 cyclotron
The acquisition of the 70MeV Cyclotron as part of Phase One of the South African Isotope Facility (SAIF) also presents an opportune vehicle for iThemba LABS to broaden its scope for the training of young South Africans to acquire technical skills in Accelerator Based Sciences and Technologies.