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A novel technology for assisting in the characterisation of semiconductors has been developed by a team of scientists at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Department of Physics. The patented technology, developed under the guidance of Professor Magnus Wagener, allows measurement of the impurity density and hence the ability to control specific design parameters during device manufacturing. Prof Wagener specialises in the growth and characteristics of semiconductor materials and worked at North Carolina State University in the United States and the CNRS in France before joining NMMU. The technology has received a favourable report from the patent examiner and is deemed completely novel and inventive. Jaci Barnett, Director of the NMMU’s Department of Innovation Support & Technology Transfer said, “Very few patents we file are found to be completely novel and inventive from the outset as there is usually so much prior technology, so this patent result shows the strength of the patent and the possibilities for future research.”


Standing (left to right) Prof J.R. Botha (Lecturer: Dept of Physics), Mr Stemmer Ndala (Manager: Innovation Support) Dr Viera Wagener (Researcher: Dept of Physics), Ms Jaci Barnett (Director: Innovation Support and Technology Transfer). Seated/front: Mr Len Compton (Toolmaker: Dept of Physics) and Professor Magnus Wagener (Lecturer: Dept of Physics).

The first prototype has been designed to determine the doping density of narrow band gap semiconductors by taking advantage of specific thermoelectric properties of the material. This new technique is also significantly easier to perform and interpret compared to more traditional methods used in the past.

The next phase of this project is the development of an integrated “black box” prototype that will be designed and developed by NMMU. The commercial system will then be tested in the market place, after which further licensing/marketing of the technology will be pursued. The Department of Innovation Support and Technology Transfer is presently assisting the team in securing funds for the development of the improved prototype intended for commercialisation.