First International SA-UK Research Network Workshop on Electrochemistry for Nanotechnology

Posted on March 14, 2008


The workshop is sponsored by the Royal Society (UK), the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE), the world electrochemistry body with headquarters in Switzerland.

The main speaker will be internationally esteemed researcher within the field of general electrochemistry and nanoelectrochemistry, Prof Richard Compton from the University of Oxford. Prof Compton is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of “Electrochemistry Communications” (Elsevier Publishers).

Dr Kenneth Ozoemena, workshop organiser from the Department of Chemistry, University of Pretoria, says, “ South Africa, like many other countries in the world, strongly believes that nanotechnology research will improve the socio-economic lives of people.” According to Dr Ozoemena, the National Science Foundation in the USA has predicted that the global marketplace for goods and services using nanotechnologies will grow to US$1 trillion by 2015 (

Electrochemistry is well recognized as an important discipline with astounding potentials to influence research in nanotechnology. In spite of the South African strategic interests in investing and encouraging nanotechnological-based research, it is disturbing to note that electrochemistry is currently one of the least developed subjects in our country.

“South Africa is very ready to tap into nanotechnology research,” affirms Ozoemena, quoting a statement from Dr Bethuel Sehlapelo, Deputy Director-General, Frontier Science & Technology, Department of Science & Technology that: “Nano is going to be the next technology revolution…can you imagine the power this country would have if we found a revolutionary use for a platinum-based material developed through nanotechnology? Remember, we control 75% of the world’s platinum.”

Ozoemena asserts that the government of South Africa clearly understands the need to move faster in nanotechnology research. He substantiates his convictions with various examples which include the generous provision of funds to researchers (his research group now included) to purchase expensive and sophisticated equipment required for the nanotechnology research; charitable bursaries to outstanding students to encourage postgraduate students to go into nanotechnology fields of research; the recent launching of South Africa’s first two Nanotechnology Innovation Centres based at MinteK and CSIR by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Mosibudi Mangena; the creation of nanotechnology research chairs in some of our Universities, just to mention a few.

Commenting on the workshop, Dr Ozoemena says, “What is worth mentioning is the dynamic structuring and layout of the entire workshop. It is to be presented in such a way that both international experts and local researchers will have a chance to voice their findings. International scholars will give talks on the topical research trends on electrochemistry in nanotechnology. Local researchers will also be presented with the opportunity to present (summarise) their current (or intended) research in nanomaterials. Hence shortfalls and propositions can be collectively explored and possible areas of collaborations with the local and international researchers can be sought.”

“The main objectives of this interactive workshop are to explore the various roles that electrochemistry can play in developing nanotechnology research in South Africa, and to explore possible areas of collaborations/networking with international experts in electrochemistry and nanoelectrochemistry.”

“Prof Compton is one of the world leading experts in the field of general electrochemistry and nanoelectrochemistry. We have established contact for a period of about 6 years based on discussions at international electrochemistry meetings, and through regular emails. When the opportunity for the funding application for the ‘SA-UK Science Networks’ came up, we knew it was the opportunity to put into action our much talked-about collaborative research partnership,” conlcudes Ozoemena.

For more information on the workshop, please contact the organiser Dr Kenneth Ozoemena (012) 420 2515 / [email protected].

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