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Experimental Science Group Laser Plasma Industrial Placement


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The Vulcan laser is a part of the Central Laser Facility based at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Researchers from the UK, EU and other countries world-wide come to use our facilities to carry out leading experiments in the physical sciences, materials research and life sciences.

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Vulcan is one of the most powerful lasers in the world! The ultra-high intensity laser interactions it can generate result in extreme conditions of matter. This allows scientists to carry out fundamental experiments exploring laboratory astrophysics, fusion mechanisms for energy and photo-induced nuclear reactions. During the interaction laser energy can also be converted to other forms of radiation and the mechanisms by which this is done are investigated with experiments on ion source development for medical application and x-ray source development for ultra-fast imaging.

The extreme conditions produced require dedicated Interaction Areas where the experiments are setup and Vulcan is fired into. The Experimental Science Group works directly with scientists providing expertise during the planning and running of experiments in these Interaction Areas.

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 there will be exposure to exciting projects and challenges from the start. We provide support every step of the way through our dedicated Early Careers Team who will also ensure you benefit from a range of personal development opportunities throughout your time with us.

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. 

Summary of responsibilities

We are able to off 2 exciting industrial placement opportunities that will work within our team alongside our visiting scientists. Time within these placements will be shared between development projects and supporting experimental operations.

During the placement, it is encouraged to participate in and support the variety of high power laser-plasma experiments that are performed on Vulcan. Requirements change with each experiment, and can vary from sourcing equipment to the design and running of plasma diagnostics and the analysis of data.

You will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of new diagnostics and equipment. This may involve designing and constructing hardware, and/or software development. You will also be encouraged to contribute project ideas corresponding to your skills and interests.

Knowledge, skills and experience

Do you have a good grasp of basic physics concepts (e.g. optics, electromagnetism)? 

The ideal candidates will have an interest in this field, and demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level. Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is highly desirable. You should be self-motivated and have the ability to work autonomously as well as within a small team.

Drive and an enthusiasm for science are definitely a positive attribute, and good communication skills are vital. Previous experience in a customer facing environment and the ability to manage self and others would also be beneficial. 

You must be computer literate, having at least a working knowledge of MS Office applications. An interest and previous experience in programming is useful, but not essential.

For you to apply for this placement, you are required to meet the following criteria:


  • 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
  • Good understanding of basic physics concepts (optics, electromagnetism, lasers) 
  • Experimental laboratory course 
  • Practical laboratory skills (this will be tested by a laboratory exercise) 
  • Effective communication skills
  • Demonstrate good team working capabilities 
  • Highly motivated and able to work independently 
  • Good problem-solving skills


  • Computer programming experience (e.g. MATLAB, Python, C++,) 
  • Experience working in a research or laboratory environment 
  • Knowledge of laser/optical/plasma physics theory and modelling techniques/software 
  • Have customer facing experience 

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: 220000ZQ
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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
  • Electrical
  • Electronic
  • Physics

Also Accepting...

  • All STEM disciplines

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