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South Africa’s first photonics prototyping facility

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A new Photonics Prototyping Facility (PPF) has been established to address the current lack of commercialised photonics products in South Africa by providing world-class facilities, technical support, equipment and scarce skills. Hosted at the CSIR, the facility has been established through support from the Department of Science and Technology for the industrialisation and commercialisation of photonics-based technologies.

Contact Person

Tendani Tsedu

+27 (0) 12 841 3417

mtsedu@csir.co.za

A new Photonics Prototyping Facility (PPF) has been established to address the current lack of commercialised photonics products in South Africa by providing world-class facilities, technical support, equipment and scarce skills. Hosted at the CSIR, the facility has been established through support from the Department of Science and Technology for the industrialisation and commercialisation of photonics-based technologies.

The initiative is also in partnership with the Innovation Hub, to develop ideas and identify needs for the current South African market. The PPF aims to address the current ‘innovation chasm’ experienced in the South African photonics industry by providing the necessary skills and facilities to support the industrialisation and commercialisation of photonics-based technologies. This will help develop South Africa’s expertise in the area of photonics product development and prototyping, thus stimulating the growth of the country’s photonics industry by forming Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) and sustainable jobs.

The PPF offers a world-class facility in the form of class 1 000 clean rooms, technical and optical equipment ranging from electronic, mechanical and diagnostic equipment for a variety of wavelengths. The facility will also house scarce skills such as knowledge and experience in optics and photonics and assistance with photonics-related prototype design and testing. The PPF will facilitate access to its industry, business and funding networks to assist in product and business development and incubation.

The PPF is inviting scientists, researchers and engineers from science councils, higher education institutes, SMMEs and industries as well as entrepreneurs and investors to participate in photonic-related prototype development.

CSIR laser researcher, Dr Angela Dudley says, “We are very excited about this initiative and we are looking forward to facilitating the development of prototypes for the realisation of photonics-based products and devices. Ultimately we hope the PPF will act as a catalyst for new South African photonics products used to improve the competitiveness of the existing industry and for new and emerging industries to be formed resulting in job creation.”

For further information, contact Dr Angela Dudley and Dr Darryl Naidoo at PPF@csir.co.za.

About photonics:

Photonics is the science of light, describing a research field that aims to generate, manipulate and detect photons – particles of light. It is an essential component of everyday technologies from lighting sources (lasers, LEDs, etc.) to telecommunications and information processing, as well as medical instruments. Just as the invention of the transistor and integrated circuits revolutionised the 20th century with electronics, so the invention of the laser and optical fibres is at the centre of the next technology revolution. The 21st century is becoming the era for photonics.