The facilities would accommodate 20 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers under the leadership of scientist Professor Fernando Albericio.
The pharmaceuticals made there will be able to fight infectious and metabolic diseases such as HIV/Aids, cancer and tuberculosis.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids with applications including biomaterials, nanotechnology and drug discovery.
Albericio has launched more than 20 commodities used for the synthesis of peptides, two of which were developed at UKZN.
The Peptide Sciences Laboratory, housing the latest instrumentation, will be the only one in South Africa devoted to the synthesis of peptides with pharmaceutical purposes.
The LCVD and Thin Films Laboratory, with its new state-of-the-art pulsed laser deposition system, will house the only instrument of this kind in the southern hemisphere.
Dr Mathew Moodley said: “The thin layers will act as a research tool on a small scale to teach students how things work, and use that knowledge to make new devices.”
Moodley will oversee the LCVD and Thin Films Laboratory. He is known for his design and construction of a conversion electron Mossbauer spectroscopy detector in 1998, which is still in use, while he was a Master's student.
His experience will be a massive contribution to the lab. He has worked as a laser physicist and group leader for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, where his projects included military and mining safety applications.