Graduate working at STFC

Laser Scientist for DiPOLE laser (Physics) - 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.

STFC’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) is at the forefront of global development and scientific exploitation of high power lasers. In addition to the high power laser systems operated as a user facility the CLF is also home to the Centre for Advanced Laser Technology and Applications (CALTA). CALTA was created to develop new laser technologies, and establish wider scientific and industrial applications of all our technology. CALTA is a dynamic group working on several projects simultaneously. To date CALTA has built a prototype 10 J DiPOLE laser system (this is a high efficiency laser system combining high average power and high repetition rate to deliver 10 J at 10 Hz) and the DiPOLE100 system generating the world’s highest pulsed diode pumped solid state laser with 100 J of energy at 1 Hz. CALTA has secured funding for several multimillion pound international contracts, which include building 100 J laser systems for the HiLASE Centre (Czech Republic) and the European XFEL (Germany).

A placement position working within the CALTA team is being offered. During the year you will be involved with multiple projects, both long and short term, with an emphasis on developing new technologies related to DiPOLE laser systems. Experiments and upgrade activities are already scheduled for the DiPOLE system; you can be involved in planning these activities and make a valuable contribution to ensure their success.

List of Duties/Responsibilities 

As DiPOLE is an experimental system the work undertaken is diverse and can vary from the design of laser diagnostics to aligning complex optical systems and from the operation of cutting edge laser technology, including data analysis to the sourcing of equipment. The candidate would be expected to undertake several projects during the year that will include focused development to upgrade the capabilities of the laser system. The position offered is in a team environment working directly with staff in the CALTA team and CLF engineers. The work is fast paced and can be very demanding at times, but a friendly, vibrant and informal working environment is maintained throughout.

A placement within DiPOLE offers an excellent opportunity to participate in a live research environment pushing the boundaries of science, as well as honing your personal skills and knowledge in science education and self-management.

Welcome to STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is one of Europe's largest multidisciplinary research organisations supporting scientists and engineers world-wide.

Personal Skills and Attributes 

You must have a good grasp of basic physics concepts (e.g. optics, electromagnetism), and be able to apply your knowledge to new topics. You must enjoy practical activities, and be proficient in the laboratory. Good communications skills are essential as is the ability to work autonomously and in a team. You will need to be determined, self-motivated with a drive to complete tasks to a deadline, but must also be flexible. An enthusiasm for science and an interest in laser systems is essential but previous experience with lasers, although useful, is not a prerequisite.

Given the nature of the work the candidate must:

be able to stand for long periods of time and manoeuvre easily around the lab
have good eyesight (when corrected)
be able to wear personal protection equipment (PPE) such as laser goggles and gloves.

Shortlisting Criteria 



  • Studying for a degree in physics, applied physics, engineering physics, or natural sciences with high physics content, any of which must also contain lab work modules (and have achieved good grades to date overall).

Knowledge/Skills and Experience 


  • good understanding of basic physics concepts (optics, electromagnetism, lasers)
  • excellent practical laboratory skills
  • good computer skills - knowledge of basic Microsoft packages
  • appreciation/awareness of Health and Safety


  • knowledge or experience of lasers, possibly through university courses
  • knowledge of Matlab, IDL or LabView

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 plan and prioritise activities to achieve goals
  • ability to multitask and have flexibility to meet deadlines
  • ability to listen and to communicate effectively
  • good problem solving skills
  • ability to work in a team or on your own
  • enthusiastic and motivated
  • ability to stand for long periods of time and the mobility to work in a laboratory environment
  • no adverse reactions to flashing lights
  • good vision (with correction if required)
  • ability to wear PPE (laser goggles, gloves, mask etc.)


  • ability to learn new skills quickly
  • ability to apply existing knowledge to new situations

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