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Experimental Science Group Laser Plasma Industrial Placement

Physics/Electronics/Materials Science.

Two large-scale laser systems are currently being upgraded and built at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.

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Vulcan 2020 will increase the existing Vulcan Laser capability to become a 20 Petawatt laser system, which would make it the most powerful laser in the world. The Extreme Photonics Applications Centre (EPAC) will be a 1 PW 10 Hz system to allow high average energy laser physics.

The high intensity laser interactions achieved by these systems will allow 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 will help to design, develop, and build these. In this role you will learn about experimental laser-plasma physics. You will help to develop and characterise diagnostics, design aspects of the new target areas and carry out your own small-scale experiments.

Overview of our industrial placement scheme

We seek a public engagement student to promote NQCC science, engineering, and the topic of quantum computing, to a range of audiences, including school students and the general public. You will join a group that plays a major role in communications and engagement at the NQCC, promoting science and engineering through a range of channels. 

You will have a have a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). You will enjoy using and developing your presentation, organisational and creative skills to promote our science and engineering, as well as  STEM subjects and careers, to a wide range of audiences through articles, education activities and events, including science fairs and festivals. Some events may be virtual.

The role would suit someone studying for a science or engineering degree, interested in science communication, and keen to encourage and engage with young people and the public. The candidate will be able to work well both individually and as part of a team, and will be interested in scientific areas and communicating that science to diverse audiences.  

Responsibilities include:

Successful applicants for these positions will help work on upgrading the facility. Time within the role will mainly be focused on development projects.

The post holder 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 are encouraged to contribute project ideas corresponding to your skills and interests.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

Candidates must have a good grasp of basic physics concepts (e.g. optics, electromagnetism). The ideal applicant would have an interest in this field, and demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level. Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is highly desirable. They 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. The post holder 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.

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
  • Good understanding of basic physics concepts (optics, electromagnetism, lasers)
  • Experimental, physics focused laboratory course
  • Practical laboratory skills, relevant to the optics (this will be tested by an 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 research laboratory environment
  • Knowledge of laser/optical/plasma physics theory and modelling techniques/software
  • Have customer facing experience

Benefits of the role:

  • Potential contribution towards chartership
  • Relevant experience when applying to graduate scheme
  • Excellent holidays
  • On site facilities including a gym
  • Inclusive campus culture

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: 2300014L
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  • Deadline
    October 29th, 2023
  • Starting
    June 2024
  • Salary
    £21,600 + benefits
  • Degree required
    2:1 and above (expected)
  • Duration
    12 months
  • Location
    Didcot (Oxfordshire)
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Preferred Disciplines...
  • Computer Science
  • Electronic
  • Materials Science
  • Physics
  • Software
Also Accepting...
  • Chemical
  • Data Science
  • Electrical
  • Hardware
  • Information Technology
  • Systems
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