Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory
The upcoming Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory at UWC and UniZulu will focus on developing new state-of-the-art particle detectors manufactured in-house in order to test and characterize them with both analog and digital systems. These modern detector labs will also serve as undergraduate and postgraduate teaching+learning laboratory, where modern hands-on pracs based on the use of particle and gamma detectors in both analog and digital systems will be implemented (e.g., alpha scattering, target thickness, particle-gamma coincidence measurements, big-data sorting or analog vs digital). High-performing computing facilities will be used to monitor big-data experiments online. To some extend our students will have a facility to run their own experiments with similar data acquisition and experimental set ups than those found @ iThemba LABS or CERN.
Funding is provided by the STFC Council in the UK through the GCRF program (PI: Prof David Jenkins, The University of York), UWC and UniZulu, and the NRF. XIA LLC digital electronics is a sponsor of the lab.
Experimental Nuclear Physics has formed the backbone in human knowledge about matter and materials. Heavy elements that are synthesized in the laboratories have helped to explore the island of atomic nuclei. Cutting-edge accelerator technologies and the numerous detection systems have made it possible to obtain valuable insight into the nuclear structure and its associated dynamics. However, the experiments in nuclear and particle physics depend upon the detection of particles. Interaction of nuclear radiation/particles with materials helps in the development of detector technologies. Even in many other areas of science nuclear radiation detector has played a vital role. Very rapid strides are being made in the design and operation of these detectors. Keeping this view in mind a state-of-art detector facility is being developed at the department of Physics & Astronomy at UWC.
The upcoming Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory – to be requested the name of MANDELA after commissioning – will give a boost to the Fundamental Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Applications Programs between the South African Universities of the Western Cape and Zululand. The Modern African Nuclear DEtector LAboratory will be able to develop state-of-art ancillary detectors can be coupled with the GAMKA spectrometer at iThemba LABS and elsewhere. It is planned to make this as an in-house facility which will be embedded with array of various detectors such as plastic scintillators, CsI, NaI, silicon and gas detectors. Upon successfully commissioning, this facility will be a benchmark for detector development in Africa. Moreover, its benefits to our undergraduate and postgraduate students are countless.
Students from UWC and UniZulu followed an intensive three-week training course on detector development, focusing specifically on scintillators and silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs). UWC and UZ now have capacity to be involved both in detector development for experimental nuclear physics and for important societal applications through the infrastructure developed and the training received.