The NIC is a national facility that is geographically spread across the country and was established at Mintek in 2007 by the Department of Science and Technology. The Mintek NIC activities are aimed at addressing the national priorities highlighted by both the national nanotechnology strategy and national research and development (R&D) strategy. The Mintek NIC structure was built on the foundation of the national system of innovations (NSI) to focus on driving South Africa’s transformation from a resource-based economy towards a knowledge-based economy using nanotechnology.

The Mintek NIC activities focus on a number of issues, including the development of research platforms, encou-raging and promoting the formation of collaborative networks, addressing human capital development and bridging the “innovation chasm”. Through the DST/Mintek NIC, collaborative networks have been established locally, allowing various universities such as the University of Western Cape, Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg undertaking and coordinating research activities in biolabels, sensors and water respectively.

The activities of the NIC focus specifically on the R&D of various nanostructured materials or nanominerals and their applications in health (diagnostics, therapeutics), water (monitoring and remediation) and other related fields. This basically entails the development of various nanostructured materials as semi-commercial products which are further used as therapeutic systems or tools. Importantly, the nanomaterial systems are used for the development of rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostic prototypes (either optical or electrochemical) and to en-hance the performance of membrane systems for water treatment.


To be the leading provider of innovative nanotechnology based solutions for South Africa.


To advance Nanoscience and Nanotechnology to bridge the innovation chasm for the development of products and services which tackle societal challenges in South Africa.


The DST/Mintek NIC is headed by Dr. Lucky Sikhwivhilu. He received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand. Following postdoctoral studies at Unipress - Institute of High Pressure Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland he developed interest in the use of high pressure methods for syn-thesis and investigation of semi-conductor properties. By manipulating interatomic distances in the crystalline solids information about the nature of electronic band structure and defects levels could be infered.

After joining Mintek in 2012 his interest shifted towards fabrication of mineral based nanostructures with important functionalities such as electronic/optical properties, or biomolecular responses. The emphasis was on understanding the weak intermolecular interactions at interfaces which do not involve strong chemical bonding.

He currently also heads The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Nanotech-nology Tri-lateral Initiative in South Africa as National Contact Person (NCP) for the four pro-grams in Health, Energy, Water and Advanced Materials and Sensors.


200 Malibongwe Dr., Randburg, Gauteng, South Africa, 2154

Phone: +27 (0) 11 709 4340
Fax: +27 (0) 11 709 4000