Graduate working at STFC

Radio Frequency Cavity Design and Measurement (Physics/Electrical Engineering) - 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.

ASTeC is part of STFC’s National Laboratories, whose aim is to provide research facilities for the UK. ASTeC stands for Accelerator Science and Technology, and our focus is the design and experimental development of particle accelerator facilities. The RF group is responsible for powering the acceleration and manipulation of the particles using Radio Frequency technology. This includes power amplification, transport, timing and accelerating cavity design. Because of the very high powers (10s of MW) and exacting precision involved the design work is challenging and compels innovative thinking. 

ASTeC is currently working to build and commission a new accelerator, the Free Electron Laser (FEL) test facility CLARA (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications). This will be the prototype for a full scale user facility FEL. In the coming decades, FEL's promise to revolutionise the understanding of physical, chemical and biological systems by enabling time-resolved studies at the molecular scale.

List of Duties / Responsibilities

You will contribute to the RF cavity design, measurement, tuning and commissioning for the CLARA FEL.

The work programme will initially involve guided study and lectures to understand the important aspects of the design of an electron accelerator. You will have the opportunity to draw on the extensive learning resources available in the Cockcroft Institute, where you will be based. The Cockcroft Institute is a collaboration between ASTeC and the universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. 

You will then learn to use computer simulation packages to model the electromagnetic fields in an RF cavity. This is one of the main tools of RF design. You will also gain practical experience in RF cavity low-power measurement, characterisation and tuning in the RF lab as well as taking part in high power commissioning shifts of the cavities run from the accelerator control room. The exact details of the final project will be decided taking into consideration the abilities and interest of the student and the RF project status.

The post involves communication through informal discussion as well as meetings with the RF group and members of other ASTeC groups. You may be required to give a formal presentation to the department on completion of the placement. Some unsociable hours/ shift working may be required for accelerator operation and commissioning. The office atmosphere is friendly and informal and the Cockcroft Institute is home to many students and early career researchers.

Personal Skills and Attributes 

You will have good verbal and written communication skills, be adept at both hands-on and computational work, and have good problem solving skills and initiative. You must be committed to learn the physical principles of particle accelerators and enthusiastic to contribute to accelerator research at the highest level.



  • Studying for a degree in Physics or Electrical Engineering
  • Able to show achievement consistent with a 1 or 2:1 degree classification


  • High marks in modules related to electromagnetism, resonant circuits, computing, laboratory work.

Knowledge/Skills and Experience


  • Ability to apply knowledge of physics or electrical engineering to produce technical solutions.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills and ability to multi-task and complete assignments.
  • Ability to work independently and on own initiative


  • Demonstrated laboratory work
  • Experience using hand tools
  • Some knowledge of RF/microwave devices

Personal Skills & Qualities


  • Good communication skills
  • Demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • The willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • Trustworthy and dependable


  • Curiosity
  • Broad interest in science.

Special Requirements


  • Willingness to work out of hours occasionally on accelerator experiments if required.
  • Willingness to travel occasionally within the UK and overseas if required.

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