Chemistry and Materials Metrology Division
In the spirit of consolidation, the Organic Analysis, Bioanalysis, Inorganic Analysis, Gas Analysis and Materials Characterisation sections have been amalgamated into one division, namely the Chemistry and Materials Metrology Division. Organic and Bioanalysis have been combined to form Org&Bio. Inorganic has been combined with Materials to form iMAT. Gas Analysis remains a section on its own. Although one division, the individual laboratories continue to support their related scientific fields through innovative measurement solutions and providing traceability to industry as needed.
Chemistry (including inorganic - Gas, Inorganic, Organic and Bioanalysis) develops traceable methods to underpin reference analysis in support of industry and aligned with the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) initiative. Dissemination of its capabilities is further done through reference analysis, the development of reference methods (national measurement standards in Chemistry), providing proficiency testing schemes (PTS) and the production of certified reference materials (CRMs) in support of the agriculture, chemicals, energy, climate change and clean air, food safety, health and environment, pharmaceuticals, metals, law enforcement and the manufacturing and mining industries.
Together with this, Chemistry supports South Africa's export and local trade so that it is not hindered, by meeting (where able) the international laws and regulations that stipulate stricter limits on pesticides, dioxins, mycotoxins, toxic elements, and other hazardous substances in various South African commodities, including support for the African Food and Feed Reference Material Programme and manufactured goods. With the emphasis on ensuring that the activities remain sustainable and applicable within a challenging economy, the division will focus on contract research projects (mainly in support of green energy, consumer protection and agricultural food and feed) and limited contract analysis to increase external funding needed to substantiate the relevance of the measurement services offered to industry.
Chemistry actively participates in research projects of national interest in support of the cross-cutter research initiative. All research outputs will support the maintenance of reference measurements (national measurement standards), new and improved NMS, PTS and CRMs offered. Resourcing the laboratories and increasing capacity building through the integrated human capital development program will also align with the research thematic projects planned. The various cross-cutter research projects support by Chemistry include the Reference Materials, Green Economies and Quality of Life programmes.
The Materials Characterisation (MAT) was amalgamated with Inorganic Analysis to form a comprehensive materials analysis and solution facility. The facility will continue to upgrade and renew its measuring instruments in support of materials characterisation within metal development, mining and metallurgy, food and feed, green energies sectors as well as advanced materials development for research institutions. The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscope (XPS), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and especially the Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscope (TOF-SIMS) will be marketed to external clients. The customer base will have to be re-established, and new markets will be explored, with specific emphasis on measurement assistance to large research projects.
MAT has a specific focus on measurements for nanotechnologies and other advanced material groups (thin films/coatings, particles/powders, alloys) as well as for the Southern African grain producers and importers (elements in grain). MAT trains post-graduate students and researchers from science institutes to perform SEM, XPS, ICP-MS and SIMS analysis. This is highly specialised and may take up to 3 months per training. It is envisaged that 4 scientists will be trained over the next three years.
In addition to assisting with some of the proposed cross-cutter projects related to IPAP focus areas of measurements within the green economy and local manufacturing, MAT will actively participate and support materials research projects in collaboration with research institutes. The outputs of these collaborations will contribute to the basis for advancing the existing national materials characterisation capabilities through exploring means for local traceability, scientific publications and presentations as well as running local PTS. MAT will also perform method validation studies in collaboration with other sections within NMISA, with the goal of establishing local, in-house traceability for materials characterisation (e.g. metal alloy elemental composition, glass composition, elemental depth profiling, etc.).