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Low Dimensional Systems (LDS) and Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM)

Low dimensional systems refer to materials of unique structure that extend to less than three dimensions. A key issue is the development of conceptually simple construction techniques for the fabrication of nanoscale structures reaching down to the atomic scale.  This can be achieved by self-organised, self assembled and template assisted growth.
A search for novel light-emitting materials with improved optical properties and smaller sizes has recently become the focus of intense study. Up-and down conversion rare earth doped nanoparticle materials are sought to be a solution to this search.

Research interests

  • Physics and chemistry of materials with reduced dimensionality
    • Rare earth doped nano-crystals phosphors (up and down conversion)
    • Surface alloys
    • Self-assembled structures at liquid-liquid interfaces
    • Template assisted growth of magnetic nanostructures.
  • Other activities
    • Water purification with nano-structured membranes and composites
    • Gas sensing with oxide nanostructures

Laboratory Facilities

  • VT-STM (Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy) AES and LEED for surface analysis
  • AFM (Atomic Force Microscope)
  • Laser Ablation set-up

Project Leader and Principal Researcher Scientist

Prof. Thembela Hillie, ATPSF
PhD: Physics, UFS, Post Doc Max-Planck Institute.
Tel: +27 12 841 3874
Fax: +27 12 841 2229
Dr. Mokhotjwa Dhlamini
Post Doc Nano phosphors and gas sensors
PhD: Physics, University of the Free State, 2008
Tel: +27 12 841 2887
Fax: +27 12 841 2229
Dr Sibusiso Mlondo
Post Doc: Growth of nano-structures at liquid-liquid interface
PhD: Chemistry, University of Manchester
Tel: +27 12 841 2887
Fax: +27 12 841 2229
Gebhu Ndlovu
Surface alloying for spin-splitting materials to be used in spintronics
PhD student: University of the Free State
(Supervisor: Prof. M.D. Roos)
Gugu Mhlongo
Quantum dots and nano-phosphors for solid state lighting
PhD student: University of the Free State
(Supervisor: Dr. O. M. Ntwaeaborwa)
Thomas Malwela
Atomic Force Microscopy Study Of Magnetic Nanostructures On Self-Assembled Patterns
MSc student: University of the Western Cape
(Supervisor: Dr. M. B Tchaula Tchockonte)

Laboratory Synthesis Facilities

  • Quanta Ray SpectraPro 290E, Nd:YAG, 48 watt average power, 1.6 J/pulse at 30 Hz, 2nd , 3rd and 4th harmonics
  • 2 large CVD furnaces with MKS gas control
  • Andor ME 5000 spectrograph and Andor DH734 ICCD for in situ diagnostics

Recent Publications

  1. M.S. Dhlamini, O.M. Ntwaeaborwa, H.C. Swart, J.M. Ngaruiya and K.T. Hillie Sensitized luminescence through nanoscopic effects of ZnO encapsulated in SiO2:Tb3+ sol gel derived phosphor. Submitted 2009.

  2. Sreejarani K. Pillay, Lucky M Sikhivhilu and Thembela K Hillie
    Synthesis, characterization and photoluminescence properties of Dy3+-doped nano-crystilline SnO2. Submitted 2009

  3. M.S. Dhlamini, J.J. Terblans, O.M. Ntwaeaborwa , J.M. Ngaruiya , K.T. Hillie ,  J.R. Botha  and H.C. Swart,
    Photoluminescence properties of powder and pulsed laser deposited      PbS nanoparticles in SiO2, Journal of Luminescence, 128 (2008) 1997 – 2003.

  4. Thembela Hillie and Mbhuti Hlophe
    Nanotechnology and the challenge of clean water, Nature                           
    Nanotechnology, 2(11), 663-664, 2007.

About this section
Meet our Research Group leaders
Brochures and fact sheets
Contact details
Research groups
Low Dimensional Systems and Scanning Probe Microscopy
Characterization Facility
Laser Synthesis of Carbon Nanomaterials
Polymer Nanocomposites
Silicon Nanoparticle Synthesis
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