Research gets R17m hi-tech boost

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THE Eastern Cape bolstered its position as an intellectual centre for cutting-edge research yesterday when Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor unveiled a new nanotechnology facility.

Pandor launched the R17-million facility – which will house new nanotechnology equipment called a time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer – at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

The sophisticated equipment could be used in the fields of pollution treatment, in green chemistry, forensic sciences and biotechnology. It could also be geared towards energy and sustainable development. The facility will be headed by Professor Tebello Nyokong.

It will be called the Rhodes/DST Centre for Nanotechnology Innovation. The department, as well as the National Research Foundation and Rhodes University, helped fund the hi-tech project.
The centre is one of the most advanced of its kind within a university in South Africa.

A second major investment in nanoscience in the Eastern Cape is an ultrahigh-resolution transmission electron microscopy facility at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

The facility at Rhodes will be used by a number of universities in the province and by the universities of Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Western Cape, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, and specialist science company Mintek.

It will also serve international researchers from Kuwait, Turkey and China.

Nanotechnology is one of South Africa’s cutting-edge science and technology areas in which the country excels globally.

Astronomy, laser technology, biotechnology and high-performance computing are other areas in which the country is a force to be reckoned with.

At the unveiling yesterday, Pandor said: “It is extremely gratifying to see how our country continues on an upward nanotechnology development trajectory, considering where South Africa started only a few years ago.”

Article by: Xolisa Phillip

Article source: The Herald

Source:  The Herald

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