New lab in South Africa thanks to UK partnership

New lab in South Africa thanks to UK partnership

A new particle detector laboratory in South Africa will help to train the next generation of nuclear scientists.

The lab, which hopes to provide low-cost medical equipment and environmental monitoring technology to the country, has been set up in the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and University of Zululand in South Africa – two historically disadvantaged universities with a large cohort of students on their Masters in Nuclear Science programme.

It has been established as part of a year-long collaboration between the two universities and the University of York in the UK, and the project has been funded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI's) Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) through the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund programme.

Professor Nico Orce, of UWC, said the new laboratory will allow them to develop detectors which could help them understand the nuclear reactions taking place in space, and create technology for medical purposes.

"The Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory at the University of the Western Cape brings new training possibilities and state-of-the-art capabilities for South African students. Nuclear imaging with plastic scintillators, because of its much lower cost, could be distributed to all hospitals in Africa,” he says.

The collaboration hopes that the lab – dubbed MANDELA (Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory) by the students – will be not only be used to help develop and manufacture state-of-the-art particle detectors, but also serve as a teaching and learning laboratory for the universities’ students.

The collaboration is an example of UKRI’s vision that international collaboration is key to ensuring world-leading research and development, and global challenges require global solutions, across nations and disciplines. Find out more about our international work by following the hashtag #UKRIGlobal on Twitter.

Read more on STFC’s website.