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Novel Battery Technologies Industrial Placement

Chemistry/Chemical/Materials.

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About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we ask the biggest questions in the universe to find answers that change the world around us. We seek understanding.

STFC's three top tips

Find out what you can do to really impress recruiters at the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) – from Early Careers Talent Acquisition Manager, Ben Bealing.

To watch the full Gradcracker/Science & Technology Facilities Council webinar, click here.

We’re proud of the impact we make. And we’re committed to helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy. Being part of all this means contributing to work that pushes boundaries and creates possibilities.

You’ll work with, and learn from, true experts. Whatever your role, you’ll be free to question, and encouraged to share ideas. And, in a positive and supportive culture, you’ll discover just what a difference you can make when you’re equipped and inspired to excel.

We’re a place where curious minds thrive. Not bound by profit, we explore ideas that others don’t, ask questions that others won’t, and discover answers that others are not equipped to find. And, alongside Mars landings and black holes, we also explore diverse, international projects in everything from science and engineering to computing and technology.

Whether it’s at the cutting edge or behind the scenes, our work is intellectually challenging. It’s very often ground-breaking. And it’s endlessly, irresistibly fascinating.

About UK Research Innovation (UKRI) 

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

Supporting some of the world’s most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world-class research, skills and business-led innovation. 

The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences. 

With a diverse team of around 20 scientists, postdoctoral researchers and students, the Crystallography Group at ISIS carries out a wide variety of research using neutron scattering, across a range of disciplines including physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering.

The Group is responsible for the operation of 7 neutron diffraction instruments at the ISIS which, in a typical year, perform around 200 user experiments with academic and industrial researchers. Generally speaking, these experiments investigate the crystal structures of materials and how the atomic arrangement influences their bulk properties. 

This placement will be based within the Crystallography Group at ISIS, using its facilities to synthesise and characterise new materials for novel battery technologies. Specifically, we are looking to explore the possibilities offered by batteries based on mobile fluoride-ions, which potentially offer advantages over current batteries that exploit lithium-ion motion. 

Overview of our industrial placement scheme

STFC’s exceptionally diverse range of placements allow you to work alongside world leading engineers, scientists and technicians in highly collaborative environments. Whichever you choose, you’ll become a critical member of the team in which you will be exposed to exciting projects and challenges from the beginning. You’ll be supported every step of the way by our dedicated Early Careers Team who will also ensure you benefit from a range of personal development opportunities. 

Summary of responsibilities

The vast majority of rechargeable batteries currently used for mobile electronics and vehicle applications are lithium-ion, exploiting their impressive energy densities and relatively high voltage. However, concerns around the safety, high cost and geopolitical distribution of raw materials, coupled with the degradation of Li+-ion cells on repeated recharging, has motivated studies of other battery chemistries.

Na+-ion cells are at the most advanced stage of development, driven by the high earth abundance of sodium, whilst cells using multivalent mobile cations such as Mg2+ and Al3+ potentially offer increased energy densities. 

Until recently, batteries based on mobile anions (rather than cations) have been largely ignored, despite Michael Faraday demonstrating high mobility of F- ions within the ‘fluoride of lead’, PbF2, in 1838. A major challenge for cells based on fluorine chemistry is the lack of a suitable liquid electrolyte, as most candidates have only a small voltage stability window and/or react with atmospheric moisture to form corrosive hydrofluoric acid, HF.

However, a significant advance occurred in 2011 with reports of viable cells using solid electrolytes such as BaSnF4, which has recently attracted the interest of car companies including Honda and Toyota. Unfortunately, these batteries have a significant drawback, as they need to be operated at elevated temperatures (typically 80-150oC) to achieve sufficiently high F—ion mobility within the solid electrolyte. 

The aim of this project is to characterise the anion diffusion pathways within solid fluorides showing high F—ion mobility and identify new materials with improved behaviour close to ambient temperature. 

Specifically, you will:

  • Use solid state and solvothermal synthesis routes to prepare powder samples of selected F—ion conductors.
  • Characterise the F—ion mobility within these materials using impedance spectroscopy techniques.
  • Characterise the crystal structure of the materials using neutron powder diffraction data collected on the ISIS Crystallography Group’s diffractometers.
  • Search online chemical databases to identify potential new F—ion conductors.

Once the necessary training has been completed, you will have an opportunity to work in a world-leading laboratory and gain ‘hands-on’ experience of sample synthesis and state-of-the-art characterisation methods which directly support a highly topical research programme.

You will gain confidence working safely in a chemistry laboratory, whilst developing excellent record-keeping and communication skills. It is likely that your work will contribute to published papers in high-profile research journals. 

In order to apply for this placement, we are looking for the following:

Essential:

  • Currently be enrolled on an undergraduate degree course 
  • Be required or have requested to take a placement year 
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK for the duration of the placement
  • Working towards a degree in chemistry, materials science or a related subject
  • Achieved an A/B grade A-level (or equivalent) in Chemistry) 
  • Strong desire and proven ability to work and learn independently 
  • Excellent time-management and planning skills 
  • Knowledge of chemical synthesis methods and laboratory-based characterisation techniques, including X-ray diffraction 
  • Excellent record keeping and communication skills 

Desirable:

  • Ability to use scientific software (Excel, Origin, Matlab, etc) to present and analyse data 

Part of our application process involves submitting your CV and a cover letter. Your cover letter should address your suitability for the opportunity based on how you meet each essential criteria stated in this advert.

We would recommend you to submit your application as soon as possible as we reserve the right to close this vacancy once we have received sufficient applications.

Disability Confident Employer

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy/ies. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation. 

Benefits

STFC offers a benefits package crafted to provide an excellent work/life balance including 30 days’ annual leave, 10.5 public and privilege days, Christmas closure and flexible working hours. 

  • Work Life Balance
  • Flexible Working Hours
  • Subsidised restaurant and coffee outlets
  • Paid Emergency Leave

How to apply 

Online applications only preferred for this role. Please submit a CV and covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for UKRI and the role. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded.

Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit an application without a covering letter may result in the application not being considered. Assessment will only be based upon the content of your submitted covering letter and CV and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. 

UKRI seeks to ensure it creates and maintains a system of openness, fairness and inclusion – a collaborative, trusted environment, which is attractive to and accessible to everyone who is interested in developing their career with us. 

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Job ID Number: 220000YZ
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Opportunity Overview

  • Deadline: October 30th, 2022
  • Starting: June 2023
  • Multiple vacancies
  • Starting Salary: £20,129 + benefits
  • All grades
  • 12 months
  • Didcot (Oxfordshire)
    (Show map)

Preferred Disciplines...

  • Chemical
  • Chemistry
  • Materials & Minerals
  • Materials Science

Also Accepting...

  • All STEM disciplines

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