ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a world-leading centre for research at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. ISIS produces beams of neutrons and muons that allow scientists to study materials at the atomic level using a suite of instruments, often described as ‘super-microscopes’. It supports a national and international community of more than 2000 scientists who use neutrons and muons for research in physics, chemistry, materials science, geology, engineering, and biology.
Neutron reflectometry is a unique tool for measuring structures and structural changes in layered systems on a nanometre scale. It provides information about the composition of each layer perpendicular to an interface and can be applied to a wide range of systems from virus-cell interactions and biological membranes, to solar cells and batteries.
At ISIS we have 4 reflectometer instruments, which are optimised for different applications. This project will work with the instrument scientists from the INTER reflectometer, which is the highest flux reflectometer at ISIS and attracts a wide range of users from both academia and industry.
The academic and industrial problems are often so complex that their solution requires a combination of experimental techniques, and is even better if these are measured simultaneously with the neutron measurements, on the same sample. The problems are also often seeking to understand how changing conditions effect the sample, such as concentration, temperature or shear-flow, and use a range of sample environments to control these conditions in-situ.
We have had some success using infra-red spectroscopy (FT-IRRAS) on liquid surfaces and quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) or a rheometer for solid-liquid interfaces, and continue to work on improving and rapidly growing these complementary capabilities. This is non-trivial and requires significant offline (lab-based) and online (with neutrons) testing.
In this lab-based project, you will work to optimise the conditions for some of these complementary measurements and help expand the capability of the ISIS reflectometers. This will involve carrying out a range of tests and experiments on both model and new systems. This will also involve working with (but not limited to):
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