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Bonex W Mwakikunga

Bonex W Mwakikunga

Principal Researcher, DST/CSIR National Centre for Nano- Structured Materials, South Africa.

Title: The Nanowire-based Breath Analyser Technology for Disease Detection


Bonex Mwakikunga obtained his B.Ed. (Science) and B Ed Sc (Hons) in 1992 and 1992 respectively at Chancellor’s College of the University of Malawi. Materialsrnand minerals worked with include W oxides and V oxides and other alloys and compounds. Dr. Bonex Mwakikunga has been a mathematics and physical sciencernteacher at Likangala Secondary School, Zomba, Malawi from 1992-1994, college lecturer at Domasi College of Education in Zomba, Malawi since 1994-1996rnand a university lecturer in physics at the University of Malawi from 1996-2003. Teaching experience at both high school and university levels for Bonex spans 11rnyears. Under the support of the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Programme (JJWBGSP) he went on to pursue his MSc in Physics as well as PhDrnin Nanoscale Physics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in South Africa between 2004 and 2009. He has undergone postdoctoral experiencernat the Council for Industrial Research in the division of National Laser Centre before accepting a tenure position at the same CSIR in the National Centre forrnNano-Structured Materials. Bonex has led the Advanced Materials for Device Applications Project at the NCNSM, CSIR since 2011 with more than 10 employeesrn(Senior and Principal Researchers, Postdocs, PhD students, MSc students, Interns and Non-Employment Contract Visiting Researchers). Current post: PrincipalrnResearcher II at the DST/CSIR National Centre for Nano-Structured Materials Devices include solar cells, sensors, light emitting components and other electronicrncomponents. These activities have led to more than 90 journal papers, 1 international patent and 2 technology transfer to industry at TRLs of 6 and 7 respectively.rnHis current interest is to develop sensor solution for health and mining industry.


This presentation outlines the progress made since 2011 when the projects of building nano sensors at the CSIR in Pretoriarnstarted up to the present time. The time line starts with some underlying nano-scale physics then onto our attempts tornestablish electrical contacts to single WO3 nanowires by focussed ion beam coating in Carl Zeiss SEM equipped with nanomanipulators.rnNext are the attempts for on-chip growth SnO2 nanowires on Au patterned alumina substrates and lastly thernAu/Ti contacts to individual SnO2 nanowires by electron-beam lithography protocols. All these approaches led to harnessingrnthe nanowire devices into a micro-nano chip which became the first CSIR technology demonstration in 2013. This demo hasrnsince been packaged into a complete breath analyser device which has now been tested in clinics where it has being calibratedrnto non-invasively monitor glucose levels in diabetic patients. The presentation also will cover the protocols for a start-uprncompany to manufacture breath analysers based on nanotechnology to monitor acetone in diabetic monitoring, formaldehydernand ammonia levels in renal failure patients as well as toluene levels in lung cancer patients. Lessons learn from “this one of thernfirst in Africa” nanotechnology ventures are important experiences to be shared.