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South Africa unveils Africa’s first mass spectrometry lab

South Africa’s science and technology minister Naledi Pandor launched Africa’s first accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) in Johannesburg on Monday.AMS Lab in SA

Simon Mullins, who is iThemba Lab representative, stated that it placed South Africa in high regard as one of the leading accelerator-based research countries in the world.

According to Mullins, while there is many AMS facilities worldwide that transact radiocarbon dating, the new lab concentrates on research-orientation and offering a broader range of isotope analysis. This is alongside postgraduate training for doctoral and master’s degrees.

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iThemba Lab is expected to accommodate Beryllium radioisotopes, which are normally used in ice cores analysis. This will be used by South Africa’s Antarctic research program when studying climate change.

iThemba Lab will be used for archaeology, palaeosciences as well as biomedical research. Currently, it is the only facility in Africa hosting its own AMS lab.

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AMS is a technique of measuring long-lasting radioisotopes. Mainly, it is used in radiocarbon dating, determining the chronological age of historical artifacts and analysis of hydrological and geological samples. AMS is also useful for studying biological materials such as tissue or bone.

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