International Science Programme (ISP)

Nuclear and associated analytical techniques in environmental science studies in Kenya

This research group at the Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (INST), University of Nairobi, has received ISP support since 1991. The activities are coordinated by Dr Michael Gatari Gichuru.

Objectives

The objective of the activities of this group is research capacity building in science and technology enhancing the ability of young scientists in doing and publishing science. The vehicle to achieve these goals was identified to include provisioning of operational research equipment, the setup of laboratory facilities and interactions with graduate students and their supervisors. Moreover, public seminars and scientific writing workshops are regularly organized and planned as important components to promote the culture of reporting findings of experiments/projects in peer reviewed journals and other relevant publications.  The global challenges in environmental research coupled to the relatively cheap, easy to use and available nuclear and associated instrumentation setups, at INST laboratories, facilitated a viable research platform for a wide choice of environmental questions attractive for students and scientists to investigate. The main research areas of focus includes air, water and soil pollution whose knowledge base is regionally low and continues to remain so due to the weak research capacity.

Contact

Dr Michael Gatari Gichuru, Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, University of Nairobi
Email: gatarimj@gmail.com

Research and development of solar cells based on dye-sensitized nanocrystalline TiO2 semiconductor thin film

This research group at Department of Physics, University of Nairobi, has received ISP support since 1998. The activities are coordinated by Prof Bernard Aduda. The group is also a member of the IPPS supported MSSEESA network.

Objectives

The main objectives of the group are to conduct relevant scientific research, high level training (PhD, MSc, BSc graduates, and technicians) in photovoltaics technology and produce policy briefs to the Kenya Government in this field.

The research activities are focused mainly on dye sensitised solar cells (DSSC) a type of photovoltaics device that has attracted intensive, world-wide research since the first breakthrough of a ~11% efficiency cell was announced. Progress to produce cells with higher efficiencies has been slow, the highest efficiencies only marginally higher than the 10-11% range.  This slow progress is ascribed to incomplete understanding of all the parameters and how they affect the performance of these cells. Broadly, the components of a DSSC that influence its performance are: (i) the dye (ii) the electrodes, and chiefly the photoelectrode, and the hole transport material, and (iii) the electrolyte. How the three components relate to each other and affect the electron transfer and subsequently the cell behaviour and stability form areas of intensive international experimental and theoretical research:

  1. Preparing and characterizing the photoactive electrode (TiO2).
  2. Identifying natural anthocyanin dye containing plants, extracting and synthesizing, and purifying the dye for use as an alternative to the costly ruthenium based dye. The charge transfer dynamics of this dye are studied, as well as its stability and adsorbing behaviour.
  3. Fabricating and characterizing an extremely thin absorber (ETA) solar cell.
  4. Fabricating and characterizing a DSSC solar cell with a modified the TiO2 surface.
  5. Studying charge transport characteristics of thin films prepared by different techniques.
  6. Attempting to construct theoretical models of the DSSC based on our experience.
  7. Constructing prototype DSSC/ETA cells as a result of the studies.
  8. Building local competence in solar cell technology.

Contact

Prof Bernard Aduda, Department of Physics, University of Nairobi
Email: boaduda@uonbi.ac.ke

Laser Physics and Spectroscopy

This research group at Department of Physics, University of Nairobi, has received ISP support since 2005. The activities are coordinated by Dr Kenneth Kaduki. The group is also a member of the IPPS supported LAM and AFSIN networks.

Objectives

The group is engaged in research activities under the broad theme “Laser Physics, Spectroscopy and Imaging” as follows:

  1. Development of a Diode Laser Spectrometer for Trace Gas Measurements: The group is developing an instrument based on Tuneable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (TDLAS) for open path monitoring of NO2. The weak absorption feature of NO2 at ~670 nm is detected by employing wavelength modulation spectroscopy. 2. Gas in Scattering Media Absorption Spectroscopy (GASMAS)
  2. Gas in Scattering Media Absorption Spectroscopy (GASMAS) is a relatively new technique for analysis of gas dispersed in scattering solids and liquids. This study aims to use the GASMAS technique for characterization of local fruit and wood samples.
  3. Image processing for disease diagnostics and environmental applications. (a) Imaging Microscopy of Human Blood Media Applied to Malaria Diagnosis: This study aims to develop novel methods of malaria parasite detection and discrimination by multispectral imaging microscopy. It is expected that the developed methods will provide a quick and accurate means of blood screening for malaria diagnostics. This project is performed in collaboration with the AFSIN network.(b) Monitoring of aquatic plants proliferation in Lake Victoria using satellite data: This study uses remotely sensed images of Lake Victoria which will be processed using image processing software to discriminate floating vegetation (primarily water hyacinth – a weed) from other image constituents (open water, land, etc.).
  4. Development of Chemometrics Based Laser Spectroscopic Techniques for Trace Analytical Characterisation of Geothermal Field Matrices. This study aims to develop laser-based spectroanalytical approaches to exploit the combined potential of trace chemical (element, molecular) and radioisotope characteristics of surficial hydrothermal expressions systems matrices (rocks, soils, spring water, biota, ground water, thermal fluids, vent gas discharges, steam condensates, rock fluid inclusions, and sediment (reservoir, stream, river, lake) of geothermal active high background radiation areas (HBRA) for geothermal resource prospecting and environmental impact potential modeling during exploitation.
  5. Chemometrics–assisted Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroanalysis (LIBS) and Imaging of Human Blood media Applied to Malaria Diagnosis. The purpose of this study is to use chemometrics-assisted LIBS and imaging techniques for diagnosis of malaria in human blood media. LIBS will provide a rapid, multi-parametric and non-destructive analysis of elemental spectra and images obtained from malaria infected blood samples for purposes of diagnosis based on the variation, speciation and interrelationships of the levels of trace elements.
  6. Applied Electronics and Instrumentation. This project aims to develop Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) – based instrumentation modules (signal generators, oscilloscopes, current/voltage meters, etc.) for use within the Laser Physics and Spectroscopy group as well as in teaching and research laboratories. This project could be rolled out later to supply high-quality, affordable instruments to Schools and Colleges

Contact

Prof Kenneth Kaduki, Department of Physics, University of Nairobi
Email: Kenkaduki@yahoo.com

Seismology

This research group at the Department of Geology, University of Nairobi, has received ISP support since 2010. The activities are coordinated by Prof Justus Barongo. The group is also a member of the ISP supported ESARSWG network in seismology.

Objectives

Due to its proximity to the seismically active East African Rift System, Kenya needs a team of well trained scientific personnel who are capable of monitoring and studying the contuous seismic events taking place all the time in the country. With the data collected, it is then possible to conduct an effective seismic hazard assessment and mitigation in the region. The main purpose of the group therefore is to advance the knowledge of seismology and applied geophysics through training and research. The specific objectives are to (a) train young Kenyans at technical, undergraduate and postgraduate levels to be proficient in the fields of seismology and geophysics, (b) build a strong research base in seismology and geophysics, (c) establish and run an efficient network of permanent seismic stations, and (d) conduct continuous monitoring of earthquake events and use the data for hazard assessment studies in this region.

Contact

Prof Justus Barongo, Department of Geology, University of Nairobi
Email: jbarongo@uonbi.ac.ke

Photovoltaics and materials science

This research group at Department of Physics, University of Eldoret, has received ISP support since 1998. The activities are coordinated by Prof Mghendi Mwamburi. The group is also a member of the IPPS supported MSSEESA network.

Objectives

The group aims to perform:

  • Optical modelling on thin film optics
  • Preparation and characterization of thin solid films
  • Further material characterization through cooperation with other labs with regard to optical, structural and compositional analysis
  • Performance monitoring of CPC/PV systems
  • Spectrally selective reflector systems
  • Solar radiation monitoring
  • Monitor the local insolation/irradiance

Contact

Prof Mghendi Mwamburi, Department of Physics, University of Eldoret
Email: mghendi@yahoo.com

Contacts

Group Leaders:
Dr Michael Gatari Gichuru, Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, University of Nairobi
Email: gatarimj@gmail.com

Prof Bernard Aduda, Department of Physics, University of Nairobi
Email: boaduda@uonbi.ac.ke
Website: http://physics.uonbi.ac.ke

Prof Kenneth Kaduki, Department of Physics, University of Nairobi
Email: Kenkaduki@yahoo.com
Website: http://physics.uonbi.ac.ke

Prof Justus Barongo, Department of Geology, University of Nairobi
Email: jbarongo@uonbi.ac.ke

Prof Mghendi Mwamburi, Department of Physics, University of Eldoret
Email: mghendi@yahoo.com

Map of Kenya