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Micro Target Materials Science Industrial Placement


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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 Target Fabrication in the Central Laser Facility are responsible for providing complex objects for use in high-power laser experiments. These objects are at the focal point of high-intensity laser interactions and are made into complex geometries from novel materials.

Target requirements are dependent on experimental requirements and vary broadly from one experimental campaign to the next: the experiments topics span plasma physics and particle acceleration, laboratory astrophysics, and industrial applications opportunities. 

In order to create extreme environments, the laser is focused to an interaction point comparable to the width of a human hair, the targets that are required have features of the same magnitude. On this scale manufacture and quality control is extremely challenging. Target Fabrication requires a wide capability of physical and chemical processes, together with advanced characterisation techniques to deliver targets that meet the experiment’s requirements. 

Overview of our Industrial Placement scheme

STFC’s incredibly 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 start. 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

To stay at the cutting edge of research the targets that the group supplies are constantly developing. The materials used for microtargets are key to the nature and quality of data produced. High precision is required in the manufacture as even small changes to the dimensional uniformity or chemical composition can have meaningful effects on the data.

Research into novel materials and processes is one on the key deliverables of the group and the student will have the ability to contribute to the production of real-world targets that are used on experiments both in the CLF but also around the world. 

This placement will focus on research into novel materials for below solid density microtargets. This can range from liquid targets to low density polymeric foam-type targets and low dimensional nanowire arrays. 

The successful applicant will be responsible for investigating the effects of changing and modifying target materials, for example using surfactants to alter the surface tension of liquids and changing the processing parameters for foam and nanowire growth. 

Working in cleanroom environments, the student will also provide general support for materials manufacture for day-to-day operations in the Target Fabrication group.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Carrying out experimental testing of liquid target systems
  • Investigation of nanoparticle doping of low-density foams
  • Produce low-dimensional materials via thin film production techniques
  • Produce reports on research outcomes
  • Characterisation of targets using a range of equipment such as X-RAY CT and SEM

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


  • 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
  • Subject of degree to be related to materials science 
  • Good knowledge on the basics of materials science, A-level Chemistry or Physics (or equivalent) minimum 
  • Some experience (including undergraduate) of working in a laboratory environment
  • Some knowledge of processes relating to the manufacture of components at the micro-scale 
  • Familiarity with Windows operating system 
  • The ability to work individually on a project, plan effectively and write reports 
  • Good understanding of the terms repeatability, accuracy, and tolerance in an engineering context 


  • Experience working with surfactants 
  • Working understanding of electron microscopes and related techniques 
  • Basic knowledge of the type of experiment that could take place with a high-power laser, knowledge relevant to the Central Laser Facility and its purpose 
  • Proven examples of working in a team to complete a technical or scientific project 
  • Has presented project work to their academic supervisors or peers 
  • Can identify hazards and work safely in a challenging environment

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. 


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: 220000XU
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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...

  • Chemistry
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials Science
  • Physics

Also Accepting...

  • All STEM disciplines

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