Hydrogen and Catalysis Method Developer - Sandwich Student

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest science research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science and technology.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

This position is in the ISIS Hydrogen and Catalysis Laboratory (IHCL) which is part of the ISIS support labs. The labs and the group support the user community by offering offline characterisation and general lab space to prepare, run and analyse their samples. The Hydrogen and Catalysis Laboratory boasts a wide range of instrumentation and analytical equipment used by the ISIS User community and staff, as well as other research staff on the RAL campus. This suite of instruments allows a wealth of physical property information to be obtained. The instruments include thermogravimetric analysis, volumetric analysis (surface area, pore size and distribution measurement), Raman, IR spectroscopy and dynamic scanning calorimetry.

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Summary of Key Duties

This position will offer an excellent opportunity for you to use and develop the scientific skills you have acquired at university, whilst learning many new ones on the way. The main focus of the work will be method development, so that the lab’s full capability can be exploited. You will also have the opportunity to get involved with a number of development projects with the ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Group in both beamline and offline experiments.

This position will be within the Support Laboratories Group working with the Molecular Spectroscopy Science Group and you will contribute to the development of the following new methods:

Chemisorption – Measuring the chemical reaction between molecular adsorbates in nano structures of technical relevance including heterogeneous catalysts. This will involve benchmarking and optimising recently acquired new equipment within the IHCL by selecting suitable test materials and testing regimes. During this project you will be testing different catalyst materials, looking at their sorption properties and using mass spectrometry to analysis the chemical products. The role will include documenting the accuracy and repeatability of the new instrument so that a new techniques will be available to the ISIS instrument scientists and user community.

Infrared Spectrometry – The IHCL houses a state of the art FTIR instrument which through the addition of a series of modules can be adapted to look at different materials. This project will be to develop robust methods for using gas and liquid flow cells. This will require careful selection of appropriate chemical systems that can be observed in the IR region. By proving the reliability and adaptability of these modules it will make these types of analysis available to the ISIS user community.


You will be expected to test these methods on a range of samples and produce documentation (user manuals, quick start guides and validation documents) for use by future users of the instrumentation. You may also have the opportunities to attend neutron beamline experiments, aid website development and learn new techniques in the other ISIS support laboratories.

You will support ISIS users in the operation of specialist equipment and assist in characterisation of their samples. Full training will be given.
You will be working directly with Support Labs management and regularly liaising with the Molecular Spectroscopy Science Group, facility scientists and external users.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

You must be enthusiastic and highly motivated and you should be able to work well as part of a team as well as working independently. A strong interest in physical sciences and working in a laboratory environment is essential. You are expected to be currently studying a science based university course and currently achieving a 2:1 level or above.



  • at university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry 
  • right to live and work in the UK 
  • currently achieving a 2:1 grade in University courses
  • enrolled on a Science degree course.


  • A-B grade Chemistry, Maths at A-level or equivalent.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • laboratory experience
  • analytical instrumentation knowledge.


  • some relevant work experience
  • experience of working in a team
  • understanding of lab safety.

Personal Skills, Qualities and Attributes


  • good communication skills
  • demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • the willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • open minded and flexible in relation to the type of work assigned to them.


  • attention to detail
  • strong interest in physical sciences.

Opportunity Overview

  • Closing Date: October 30, 2017
  • Salary: £18,946
  • Placement Duration: Year-long
  • Location: Didcot (Oxford)
  • Region: London and South East
  • Type: Work Placement / Internship

Other benefits...

  • Generous leave allowance
  • Pension scheme

Disciplines accepted...

  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Science
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To Apply

Job ID Number: IRC242498
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