The Nanominerals Unit operates in the interdisciplinary field of nanoscience and nanotechnology, with an emphasis on the fabrication of mineral-based nanomaterials and the development of nano-devices for electronic, biomedical and water applications. The research covers (1) nanomaterials growth, (2) device fabrication and characterization and (3) applications development. These projects are in close collaboration with the NIC developmental units (Water, Sensor and Biolabels Units) and academia.
The NIC Nanominerals Unit is headed by Dr. Gebhu Ndlovu. He has a PhD in Materials Science from the University of the Free State. Prior to joining Mintek, he worked at the CSIR, National Centre for Nanostructured Materials Research Group, where he was responsible for conducting and managing research projects, running a scanning probe laboratory, writing research proposals and establishing local and international collaborations. His areas of expertise cover a wide area of techniques in surface science, R&D in the development of electronic transistors and diodes, with a wealth of experience in working on electronic device manufacturing in a clean room environment and studying materials at atomic level, using ultra-high vacuum systems, such as the scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscope.
Poslet is currently involved in the synthesis and characterisation of various nano-materials. He has focused on metal (gold, silver and copper) and metal oxide / sulfide (ZnO, CdS and ZnS) nanoparticles. Although these materials have a variety of applica-tions, there is still a need to master the synthesis techniques, tailoring the size and shape. He is also involved in the scale-up of gold nanoparticles synthesis.
The Nanominerals group focuses on the development of nanomaterials for use in Health, Sensors and Water. Sanele focuses on semiconducting nanomaterials (Group III-V) for the development of electronic devices like solar cells and gas sensors. These materials are synthesised in bulk, thoroughly characterised and then incorporated into an electronic device, using electron beam lithography (EBL).
Linah is currently the NIC's Microscopist in training. She will be responsible for the SEM and TEM analysis of various samples to all Mintek and outside stakeholders. She was previously in the water group, where she was responsible for the synthesis and characterisation of polymer nanofibers for application in water treatment and pollution detection devices.
The Unit’s activities include student supervision (MSc and PhD), typically in collaboration with several universities, including the University of Cape Town, Vaal University of Technology, University of the Witwatersrand and North-West University (Mafikeng campus). However, because the students only form part of the collaboration efforts, they are not, as such, counted as NIC students. Currently a total of five (5) students are being supervised by Dr. Lucky Sikhwivhilu and Dr. Poslet Shumbula. These include four (4) PhD students enrolled at Wits University and one (1) PhD student at VUT.