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NRF approves R35m nuclear spectrometer funding

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The National Research Foundation (NRF) has approved the funding of R35-million for a Nuclear Spectrometer.
GAMKA, which stands for GAMma-ray spectrometer for Knowledge in Africa as well as from the Khoisan word for “lion”, will bolster the country’s ability to perform cutting edge nuclear research.
South Africa has a long history of successfully studying the atomic nuclei through high level experiments at iThemba LABS, the largest national nuclear science facility on the continent. However, the aging of its detection equipment as a result of technological advancement led the University of the Western Cape (UWC), under the leadership of Professor Nico Orce of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, to establish a consortium consisting of four South African universities and iThemba LABS in order to address this issue through an application to the NRF.
The GAMKA Spectrometer involves new, state-of-the-art detectors that will be used to greatly enhance the ability to measure the scattered gamma radiation from the experiments at iThemba LABS.
The GAMKA proposal provides four new clover detectors made of high purity germanium as well as 17 lanthanum bromide (LaBr) detectors. These detectors will be formed into arrays that will provide unprecedented resolution (clovers) and efficiency (LaBr) for the measurement of gamma rays.
GAMKA equipment will allow the consortium members, Stellenbosch University, the Universities of the Western Cape, Witwatersrand and Zululand, and iThemba LABS, as well as other researchers across the country, to study a wide range of nuclear properties and phenomena such as high spin states, nuclear lifetimes and shapes, gamma-ray strength functions and the structure of giant resonances at a level that will allow for major contributions to be made to the field of nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics.