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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. It undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.

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Mathematical optics

Research highlights


World's first digital laser developed in NLC

Researchers at the NLC have demonstrated that by replacing one of the mirrors in the laser cavity with a spatial light modulator (SLM), it is possible to digitally control the laser beam shape without any loss in beam power. This innovation brings about a much cheaper, easier and faster method to the shaping of laser beams. The dynamic control of laser modes could open up many future applications, from communications to manufacturing to medicine. Their findings have just been published in the prestigious journal, Nature Communications [Nature Communications vol. 4 2289 (2013)].


Self-healing of quantum entanglement

It has been know that classical Bessel Gaussian beams have the unique property to self-heal after encountering an obstacle. Quantum entanglement between photon pairs is very fragile; the presence of an obstruction introduces losses that can mask the correlations associated with the entanglement.  Researchers in the quantum optics lab at the NLC have shown that one can overcome these losses by measuring in the Bessel basis, thus once again revealing the entanglement after propagation beyond the obstruction. Their findings may offer advantages in free-space quantum communication and quantum processing systems. [Nature Communications vol. 5 3248 (2014)]


Researcher profile



Sandile Ngcobo (30) is a young, learned and modern South African man but has not forgotten his roots. This young Zulu inkosana hails from Kwa-Mafunze village on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. Mapholoba, his clan name, is from a royal family but he shies away from divulging his royal lineage.

Diamonds are the hardest known natural substance. There are many types of diamonds such as industrial, commercial and synthetic ones. Laser scientist Bathusile Masina is involved in studies whereby industrial diamonds are heated by a laser beam and the resulting temperature is optically measured on the surface of the diamond in order to study temperature driven defects.

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