Graduate working at STFC

Materials Characterisations Method Developer (Physics/Chemistry/Material Sciences) - Year-Long Placement

STFC offers you an opportunity to gain paid practical experience as part of your degree. Each year STFC recruit up to 45 sandwich students who are able to use and develop the skills they’ve acquired at university in a working environment, providing learning on the job and working on real projects alongside expert scientists and engineers. Learning new skills to help in their further studies. 

The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Materials Characterisation Laboratory (MCL) boasts a wide range of instrumentation and analytical equipment used by the ISIS User community and staff, as well as other research staff on the RAL campus. This suite of instruments allows a wealth of physical property information to be obtained. The instruments include a Single Crystal X-ray Diffractometer, Powder and thin film X-ray Diffractometers, an X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF), an Atomic Force Microscope, a Magnetic Property Measurement System (SQUID), Physical Property Measurement System and a Kerr microscope.

This position will offer you an excellent opportunity to use and develop the skills you have acquired at university whilst learning many new ones on the way. The main focus of the work will be method development, so that the lab’s full capability can be exploited. You will also have the opportunity to get involved with a number of collaborative science projects with ISIS Users and Staff.

List Of Duties/ Responsibilities

Within the laboratory support team you will develop the following new methods:

  • commission and optimise a newly acquired Laue X-ray instrument for aligning crystals in preparation for further offline and ISIS beamtime experiments
  • develop methodology for a new X-ray thin film reflectometry to aid in pre-screening of ISIS beamtime sample
  • variable temperature AC.Transport measurements for solids on the Physical Property Measurement System (PPMS)
  • commission and optimise a method for an X-ray diffraction (XRD) utilising a new furnace capable of high pressure, in situ reactive gases and high temperature measurements
  • commission and optimise the use of a new Magneto-optical Kerr effect microscope establishing its full potential, measuring calibration standards to develop optimum method statements and installing the low temperature option, then comparing these results to SQUID magnetometry
  • develop methodology for a Small Angle X-ray Scattering instrument (SAXS) suitable for pre-screening samples and complimentary measurements to beamline instruments, with exploring its full capabilities of different options and temperature stages.

You will be expected to test these methods on a range of samples and produce documentation for use by future users of the instrumentation. You may also have the opportunities to attend neutron beamline experiments, aid website development, and learn new techniques in the other ISIS support laboratories. You will be working directly with Support Labs management, and regularly liaising with facility scientists and external users.

You must be enthusiastic and highly motivated. You should be able to work well as part of a team as well as working independently. A strong interest in physical sciences and working in a laboratory environment is essential.



  • current 2:1 science degree results or above.

Knowledge/Skills and Experience 


  • laboratory experience
  • work experience.

Personal Skills & Qualities


  • good communication skills
  • demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • the willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • open minded and flexible in relation to the type of work assigned to them.

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