Hanekom praises new CSIR laser

2013-09-17 23:18

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Pretoria - The development of the world’s first digital laser in South Africa presents limitless opportunities, Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said on Tuesday.

"Worldwide, lasers have become a multi-billion dollar industry. This development opens up a whole new world of opportunities," he said in Pretoria.

"I am confident that the announcement made today is not the last, there are many more to come. We are all trying to grasp the scientific significance of the breakthrough announced today and the possibilities that lie beyond."

Hanekom said the government was investing significantly in research, but could do better.

"Are we spending enough to promote research? The answer is obviously no because we can never do enough. At the moment we are funding research being done at universities and science councils across the country.

"The results being done leads to what we are calling, in this case, a breakthrough."

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the development of the digital laser at a presentation on Tuesday. It was expected to spur numerous applications to improve the communication and health sectors, Prof Andrew Forbes, of the CSIR National Laser Centre, said in Pretoria.

"Our device represents a new way of thinking about laser technology and we see in it a new platform on which the future technologies may be built," he said.

"We believe that this [innovation] can be used in health, as a research tool, [but] not as a clinical tool yet. We are already working on this plus other devices in communication."

Sandile Ngcobo

The laser technology could significantly solve bandwidth problems.

Forbes said research exercises required considerable financial backing and time.

"All research is expensive, that is the truth. What is also important is the time that it takes. You need time in science, that is the issue."

The experimental work in the laser project was done by doctoral candidate and CSIR researcher Sandile Ngcobo.

Ngcobo said he hoped to explore further and improve the digital laser.

"It is quite a remarkable achievement. I hope to do a bit more work on this, take it a bit forward and see what else we can do to improve the device," he said.

"I believe the digital laser will be a 'disruptive' technology. This technology may change the status quo and could create new markets and value networks within the next few years."

The work was done in the CSIR's mathematical optics group, led by Forbes.

A laser is described as a device which emits light through a process of optical amplification based on stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term laser originated as an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

Read more on:    csir  |  derek hanekom  |  sandile ngcobo  |  science  |  good news

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