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About Us


The EMU aims to be an established international entity focusing on the exploitation of advanced analytical Electron Microscopy techniques in nanoscience and nanotechnology. research, as well as other diverse fields.

Objectives of the EMU

  • To empower staff to gain the necessary expertise in the use of various advanced analytical techniques available within the unit.

  • EMU staff will!strive to become proficient at all the advanced techniques available.

  • EMU staff shall be committed to its users by providing a quality service.

  • The EMU aims to build a strong research network with national and international R&D institutions in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

  • The unit aims to empower its users to become independent operators of the SEMs and TEMs by offering training courses and workshops.

  • The EMU shall encourage electron microscopy related research within the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and build the unit into a core interdisciplinary research centre of international status.

  • The unit shall collaborate closely with other institutions and do justice to the national status of the instrumentation housed in the unit, sponsored by the National Research Foundation.

  • The staff of the unit shall remain abreast of new developments on the research and technological fronts to prepare itself adequately for the much needed knowledge and technology transfer.

  • EMU staff shall be well informed and advise its users sufficiently on electron microscopy matters.

  • The academic staff of the EMU shall encourage cutting edge research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and support supervision of postgraduate students.

  • The EMU will go to great lengths to further build the image of UWC as a place of quality and a place to grow.

Summary of activities in the EMU (mainly nanoscience research)

  • Photovoltaic research (solar cells)

  • Thin film interactions and interface studies on a nanoscale

  • Structural analysis of hydrogenated amorphous silicon films

  • Thin film studies on metal silicides, formation and characterisation of single and multiple layers

  • Nanoparticle and Fuel Cell research

  • The development of hydrogen separation membranes

  • Studies in nanolithography

  • Fabrication of nanoclusters by electrophoretic deposition

  • Characterization of single and multi-walled carbon nanotobes

  • Structural analysis of micro and meso-porous materials

  • Development of nanocrystalline silicon thin films

  • Zeolite modified biosensor or chemical sensor cell research

  • Development of new catalytic materials

  • Characterisation of Zeolites prepared from waste products

  • Studies in morphology, mineralogy, composition and phase changes in Coal Combustion Byproducts

  • Taxonomy studies and Fossil research

  • Superconductor studies

  • Restorative Dentistry studies

  • Conservative Dentistry studies

  • Pharmaceutical and Anatomy studies

  • Geological studies

Outputs and knowledge dissemination

Over the years the EMU at UWC has been involved with demonstrating the electron microscope to schools in the region through the School Enrolment Management Unit and the Faculty of Science at events such as Open Days. Courses have also been offered to teachers of Western Cape schools. Undergraduate students are also given practicals that expose them to the applications of electron microscopy.

Knowledge dissemination is done by peer review at conferences, through articles in accredited journals, in reports to funding agencies, as well as through project based presentations and seminars. Other outputs are in the form of new student projects that culminate in thesis writing and the subsequent awarding of postgraduate degrees. Over the past 10 years, more than 200 EM related peer reviewed papers were published by staff and students. In this period, more than 200 postgraduate students have graduated with their BSc Honours, MSc and PhD degrees. More than 50% of such students come from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The EMU is committed to engaging with researchers across the Faculty and elsewhere, to share knowledge and experiences, and by so doing, create an environment conducive to building a vibrant South African scientific research community, especially as far as research in nanoscience and nanotechnology is concerned. To this end we hope to bring about the establishment of a regional Centre of Excellence in Electron Microscopy.


We wish to thank the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation for their generous awards which enables us to purchase state-of-the-art research instruments, and the UWC management for their generous contributions in seeing to the needs of the scientific community at UWC by providing the funds to maintain these expensive instruments and putting human resources in place to manage the unit.


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