The sensor unit seeks to develop sensors, electrochemical and or optical, for applications in health and related areas. In addition, the unit looks at the synthesis and applications of nanofibers in various fields, including sensing.
The Developmental NIC Sensors Team is headed by Dr. Sibulelo Vilakazi. She obtained her PhD in Chemistry from Rhodes University and MS in science education from Portland State University in Oregon USA. Prior to joining the NIC, Dr Vilakazi was employed as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of the North.
Her research experience and interest is in various areas of chemistry, including the synthesis and applications of organometallic compounds to electrochemical sensing, thermal stability of pharmaceutical drugs and their crystal structures, as well as improving the solubility of these drugs for increased bioavailability. Since joining the NIC, Dr Vilakazi has focused on the design of electrochemical sensors for applications in health and environmental health. The objective is to design portable, robust easy to use sensors that are usable in remote areas. The focus has been on early detection and monitoring.
Munkombwe currently focuses on the development of biosensors for the detection of glucose, utilising the screen printed electrodes (SPE’s) produced in-house modified with nano-metal oxides. She is also currently involved in the coordination of collaborative efforts between Mintek and other institutions within the African continent.
Ntsoaki has been involved in the synthesis of metal oxide nanoparticles, their characterisation and the investigation of their potential as sensors for selected biologicals. She will also investigate catalytic synergy between catalytic compounds and nanoparticles on the sensor surface, studying their electro-catalysis and -analysis efficacy toward biological compound detection.
The Sensors NIC research unit is situated at Rhodes University and is headed by Prof. Tabello Nyokong.
There is currently twelve (12) post graduate students enrolled with the NIC under sensors; seven (7) PhD and five (5) MSc students. They focus on a variety of projects including the design of sensors for monitoring indicators for early detection of disease; the development of portable sensors based on nanotechnology, for the detection of pollutants in water; the develop-ment of sensor technology incorpora-ting carbon and metal based nano-particles, as well as sensing elements, such as metallophthalocyanines and the development of novel nano fibers for various applications.