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Experimental Science Group Laser Plasma Industrial Placement

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering.

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a different specialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for placement students with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these. 

The Vulcan laser is a part of the Central Laser Facility based at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Researchers from the UK, EU and other countries world-wide come to use our facilities to carry out leading experiments in the physical sciences, materials research and life sciences.

Vulcan is one of the most powerful lasers in the world and the ultra-high intensity laser interactions it can generate result in extreme conditions of matter. This allows scientists to carry out fundamental experiments exploring laboratory astrophysics, fusion mechanisms for energy and photo-induced nuclear reactions. During the interaction laser energy can also be converted to other forms of radiation and the mechanisms by which this is done are investigated with experiments on ion source development for medical application and x-ray source development for ultra-fast imaging.

The extreme conditions produced require dedicated Interaction Areas where the experiments are setup and Vulcan is fired into. The Experimental Science Group works directly with scientists providing expertise during the planning and running of experiments in these Interaction Areas.

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

Successful applicants for these positions will work within our team alongside our visiting scientists. Time within the roles will be shared between development projects and supporting experimental operations.

During the placement they will be expected to participate in and support the variety of high power laser-plasma experiments that are performed on Vulcan. Requirements change with each experiment, and can vary from sourcing equipment to the design and running of plasma diagnostics and the analysis of data.

You will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of new diagnostics and equipment. This may involve designing and constructing hardware, and/or software development. You are encouraged to contribute project ideas corresponding to your skills and interests.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

You must demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level. Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is highly desirable. They should be self-motivated and have the ability to work autonomously as well as within a small team.

Drive and an enthusiasm for science are definitely a positive attribute, and good communication skills are vital. Previous experience in a customer facing environment and the ability to manage self and others would also be beneficial.  You must be computer literate, having at least a working knowledge of MS Office applications. An interest and previous experience in programming is useful, but not essential.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.


  • At university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry (S)
  • Right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • First two years of degree course in physics, or a closely related subject. (S)
  • Good understanding of basic physics concepts (optics, electromagnetism,lasers) (S&I)
  • Experimental laboratory course (S)
  • Practical laboratory skills (this will be tested by a laboratory exercise). (I)
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills (S&I)
  • Demonstrate good team working capabilities (S&I)
  • Highly motivated and able to work independently (S&I)
  • Good problem-solving skills (I)
  • Responsible approach to health and safety. (S&I)


  • Computer programming experience (e.g. MATLAB, Python, C++,) (S&I)
  • Experience working in a research or laboratory environment  (S&I)
  • Knowledge of laser/optical/plasma physics theory and modelling techniques/software (S&I)
  • Have customer facing experience. (S&I)

Special Requirements

This role will involve working in tight spaces where access is restricted and will involve standing for extended periods. Successful candidates will also be required to ware personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, glove and a face mask.


Experimental Science Group Laser Plasma Industrial Placement - IRC250828

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More about this vacancy

Number of vacancies: 
Up to 5