Graduate working at STFC

Development of detectors for muon spectroscopy at ISIS (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. 

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, timing accuracy and insensitivity to environmental influences all need to be carefully optimised to meet the requirements of particular instruments.

This placement will focus on the development of gas filled radiation detector technologies for future ISIS muon spectrometer upgrades. The muon instruments at ISIS require detectors with very good timing accuracy and high count rate capability, combined with the ability to operate in high magnetic fields. Gas filled radiation detectors are widely used in particle physics, but not yet in muon spectroscopy. A project is therefore underway to investigate the potential of gas filled detectors for muon spectroscopy.

List of duties/Responsibilites

You will investigate methods and technologies to optimise the performance of gas filled detectors for muon spectroscopy at ISIS. 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 in our suite of laboratories. The emphasis of the project will be on achieving the required timing accuracy of the gas filled detector. 
The optimised detector design will be awarded measurement time on an ISIS muon spectrometer. You will be responsible for carrying out the experimental programme, which must utilise the beam time efficiently. Help and advice will be provided by the supervisors.
You are expected to present results of the project in regular meetings with your line manager and in section meetings.

Personal Skills & Attributes

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

Shortlisting Criteria



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

Knowledge/Skills & 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 & 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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