Nanotechnology with BESSY II

Advances in various fields, including biomedicine, electronics, optoelectronics, energy conversion and storage, are fuelled by nanotechnology. However, there is neither a synchrotron facility in Africa nor many users of BESSY II in Africa. Dr Tabitha Amollo, leader of the materials physics group of Egerton University in Kenya, is changing that. She organised a materials science workshop to advance nanotechnology research as part of her participation in the Future Africa Research Leadership Fellowship Program (FAR-LeaF).


The workshop focussed on materials for energy conversion and storage, information technology, environmental conservation and radiation detection. Themed “The Synchrotron Radiation Source BESSY II – Research Options for the International Science Community”, the workshop aimed at fostering access to BESSY II. The guest speaker, Dr Antje Vollmer, is the current Facility Speaker for BESSY II at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB) in Berlin, Germany. Productive scientific research requires proper infrastructure. Large-scale research infrastructure such as BESSY II enables the best science to solve global and societal challenges, bring people together, and pave the way for peaceful cooperation.


The workshop participants were mainly STEM Faculty members and postgraduate students from Egerton University and other universities in Kenya. The guest speaker highlighted the energy security and sustainability that comes with solar energy resource:

"In 60 minutes, the sun delivers the energy the world needs in one year, 567x567 km² of solar panels in the Sahara (3,5% of the area) would satisfy the world’s energy demand, 22m² of solar panels cover the need of an average household."

Dr Amollo highlighted recent developments in nanomaterials for solar energy conversion and storage and solar-powered appliances. Her co-fellow Dr Ronald Tombe‘s presentation on agricultural social networks focused on modelling, analysis, applications, and open challenges. As a computer scientist, he uses the theory of change to aid in agricultural innovations and agricultural social network modelling.


Workshop participants were trained in successful proposal writing to ensure some beamtime at BESSY II for onsite and remote experimentation. The workshop opened various opportunities for materials physics researchers and master’s students. All group members will travel to Berlin in June 2023 to spend time at Bessy II for knowledge exchange and networking opportunities.

Large-scale research infrastructure such as BESSY II enables the best science to solve global and societal challenges, unite people, and pave the way for peaceful cooperation.

The guest speaker, Dr Antje Vollmer (second from left) and the material physics research group of Egerton University, led by Dr Tabitha Amollo (third from left).

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.