Facilities and Infrastructure
The Division of Biomedical Engineering has five office areas for students and dedicated offices for academic staff members comprising 285 m2, located in the Anatomy Building. We also have five dedicated laboratories in the Anatomy Building, occupy an area of 180 m2:
- Low-dose X-ray,
- Medical Electronics & Biomechatronics,
- High-resolution EEG,
- Automated Microscopy, and
- MRI analysis.
In addition, we have a dedicated biomechanics laboratory of 80 m2 that is located at UCT’s Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.
We have ready access to the Confocal and Light Microscopy Facility in the Department of Human Biology and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and X-ray imaging systems at local hospitals.
We use commercial, open-source and freely available specialised software packages including Abaqus, Ansys, Brainvoyager, CFD ACE+, Comsol Multi-physics, Continuity, Eagle PCB Design, FEBio, Fluent, Labview, Matlab, Octave, Python, Scilab, Simpleware, SolidWorks and Visual C++. We have access to high performance computing clusters at UCT and at the South African Centre for High Performance Computing.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
The Cape Universities Brain Imaging Centre (CUBIC) is the result of a collaboration between UCT, Stellenbosch University and Siemens. The Centre, located at the Tygerberg campus of Stellenbosch University, houses Africa's first 3 Tesla dedicated research MRI scanner. MIRU member Marcin Jankiewicz is responsible for its technical management. We have unlimited access to this MRI scanner, which is ideal for functional imaging but has an outdated and unsupported platform for MRI technology development.
Since this field of research continues to gather momentum, the division in collaboration with clinical departments has recently obtained for a full-body research MRI scanner housed at the Cape Universities Body Imaging Centre at UCT (CUBIC-UCT). This major facility located at Groote Schuur Hospital has been funded through the National Research Foundation and the Technology Innovation Agency.
Electroencephalography and Brain-computer Interfaces
The division hosts a high-resolution (128 channel) electroencephalography facility which is the only one of its kind in Africa. This system is used for fundamental multidisciplinary neuroscience research projects that are intra-university (e.g. involving MRC/UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Unit, UCT School of Music) as well as inter-university (e.g. involving University of the Witwatersrand, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Peninsula University of Technology). In addition we carry out engineering research involving brain-computer interfaces and as a long-standing EEG/BCI research group we are regularly consulted by postgraduate engineering students from other South African universities (e.g. University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Stellenbosch, Tshwane University of Technology, North-Western University) for assistance. The high-resolution system is hosted in an EEG recording room that has been recently refurbished and now also includes an electrically shielded recording cubicle. This allows for lower electrical noise during recordings and thus increasing repeatability, allowing for higher frequency EEG studies, and for the identification of small EEG features that may have previously embedded in noise. This allows us to offer a high resolution EEG recording service to any local researcher.
Electromyography and Biomechatronics
We host a high-resolution (256 channel) electromyography system that is also the only one of its kind in Africa. In combination with the high-resolution (128 channel) EEG system, this facility will offer valuable insight into motor processes in normal and pathological brains and we plan a number of dual modality EMG and EEG studies in future. We have designed and built a combination EMG-EEG (8 and 16 channel respectively) as well as number of fully functional EMG recording systems (20, 30, 40, and 50 channel) with real-time processing capabilities. The most recent systems include an EMG single generator for calibration as well as a digital gain control feature and multiplexed real-time monitoring of electrode-skin contact impedance. Five biomechanical dynamometers have been designed and built to record and assess forces at the thumb, wrist, elbow and ankle joints.
The division hosts a Lodox Statscan X-ray imaging system which is dedicated to research and serves as a test bed for our collaboration with Lodox Systems. We also have access to Lodox scanners located at the Salt River Forensic Pathology Laboratory, Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross Children’s Hospital, and collaborate with clinicians at these facilities.