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Laser Target Area Physicist - 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. 

Key Duties & Responsibilities

Gemini is part of the Central Laser Facility, situated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Researchers from the UK, EU and around the world come to use our facilities to carry out a wide range of cutting-edge experiments in the physical sciences, materials research and life sciences. 

Gemini is an ultra-high intensity laser interaction facility that can generate extreme conditions of matter, comparable to the centre of a star.  This incredible environment allows scientists to carry out fundamental experiments exploring relativistic plasmas, fusion mechanisms for energy production and laboratory astrophysics. Laser energy can also be converted to other forms of radiation through compact plasma acceleration schemes. These secondary sources can be used for advanced imaging applications in medicine, material science and industrial inspection. Gemini is one of the most powerful lasers in the world, and is under continuous development to maintain its world-class status.

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 operating the laser or 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 with Gemini.  Requirements change with each experiment, and can vary from sourcing equipment to the design and running of plasma diagnostics, data analysis, or reconfiguring laser hardware.

You will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of new components or diagnostics to enhance Gemini system performance. 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 have a good grasp of basic physics concepts (e.g.optics, electromagnetism).  You would have an interest in this field, and demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level. Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is also highly desirable. You 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 communications 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, with grades corresponding to a 2:1 or higher (S)
  • A-level Maths or equivalent (S)
  • A-level Physics or equivalent (S)
  • Good understanding of basic physics concepts (optics, electromagnetism, lasers) (S&I)
  • Experimental laboratory course (S)
  • Practical laboratory skills (I - this will be tested by a laboratory exercise)
  • 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 (S&I)
  • Responsible approach to health and safety. (S&I)


  • A-level Computing or further Maths (S)
  • 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)

Special Requirements

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

Gemini Laser Facility - Industrial Placement - IRC250802

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More about this vacancy

Number of vacancies: 
Up to 5