Graduate working at STFC

Experimental Scientist for neutron scattering applications - 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.

Within STFC, ISIS is part of the National Laboratories directorate. The National Laboratories provide research facilities and capabilities that, because of their scale, complexity, strategic character or cost, are appropriately operated as a national research resource. The ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source is the world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences. It provides scientists and engineers with a facility to determine the structure and dynamics of materials at the molecular/atomic level, using beams of neutrons and muons.

A vigorous research and development programme is underway to meet the demands for new radiation detectors at ISIS. The successful student will contribute to this programme, working alongside experienced scientists to develop and evaluate the potential of new detector technologies.

At ISIS the properties of any given detector have to be carefully matched to the specific scientific techniques performed on the neutron or muon instrument they serve. The detection efficiency, count rate capability, scintillation efficiency and light collection efficiency all need to be carefully optimised to meet the requirements of particular instruments.

This placement will focus on the optimisation of scintillation detector technology, for use in neutron detectors for future ISIS instrument upgrades. Neutron detectors have been constructed in the past using scintillation detectors equipped with 6LiF:ZnS(Ag) scintillators and wavelength shifting fibres. However, new neutron scattering techniques require detectors that can count the neutrons faster than is achievable with the existing 6LiF:ZnS(Ag) scintillation detectors. Methods to improve the count rate capability of scintillation detectors are therefore being investigated.

List of Duties/ Responsibilities

You will investigate methods to produce wavelength shifting fibre read out scintillation detectors with the required performance and at an acceptable cost. This is typically done by designing and constructing a number of small prototype detectors, experimentally determining the characteristics of these detectors and optimising the design.

Detector characteristics that will be measured include: neutron detection efficiency, gamma sensitivity, intrinsic detector background, detector resolution and count-rate capability. At the end of the project a prototype detector will be built to verify the performance on a more realistic scale. You will be responsible for the experimental programme. Help and advice will be provided by the supervisors.

You will be expected to present results of the project in regular meetings with your manager and in section meetings.

Personal Skills and Attributes

It is essential that you are dexterous and has a particular interest in experimental research. Willingness to work as part of a multidisciplinary team and with ionising radiation is required.



studying for a degree in physics or another physics related degree.

Knowledge / Skills and Experience


interest in experimental physics related to ionising radiation
experience using electronics for processing electronic signals, such as oscilloscopes.


experience with detection of ionising radiation.

Personal Skills and 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
  • ability to take initiative and to work effectively with limited supervision at times
  • tenacity and determination to pursue an experimental development programme.


good problem solving skills.

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