Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC242551
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £18946 - £18946
Date Posted 25 August 2017
Grade RC-STU
Contract Type Student - Sandwich Course
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 30 October 2017
Interview Date

Salary: £18,946
Grade: RC-STU
Contract Type: Fixed Term for 1 year
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 30th October 2017
Interview Date: 28th and 29th November 2017

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest science 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 and technology.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich 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.

Within STFC, ISIS is a world leading facility for scientific research using neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy, with a strong scientific user programme and extensive international links. We support a national and international community of more than 2000 scientists for research into subjects ranging from clean energy and the environment, pharmaceuticals and health care, through to nanotechnology, materials engineering and IT, as well as fundamental physics and chemistry investigations.

Job Description:
The Excitations and Polarized Neutrons Group at ISIS operates four neutron spectrometers, as well as a 3He filling station. The latter is used to prepare so-called neutron spin filters, vessels containing highly polarized 3He gas which admit only one polarization of neutrons. In this sense, spin filters are the neutron analogue of optical polarizing  filters. One of the key limitations of the technique is the reduction of 3He polarization with time, predominantly due to interactions between the gas and the walls of the vessel. As a result, spin filters typically need to be changed every 24 hours, causing considerable inconvenience and wasting precious beam-time. This project will focus on reducing wall relaxation, and hence increasing spin filter lifetime, by chemically passivating the vessel walls. Examples of materials to be used are quartz for the walls and dichlorodimethylsilane as the passivating agent. 

In this context, your role of the polarized neutrons sandwich student will be to:

  • prepare specimens of various wall material/passivating agent combinations
  • test these speciments using 3He Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, a sensitive probe of spin filter lifetime
  • investigate the surface chemistry of passivization by neutron reflectometry
  • participate in the construction of spin filter cells
  • assist with polarized 3He experiments supported by the group.

Full technical and scientific support will be provided for the duration of your placement.

If successful, the project should lead to a dramatic improvement in capacity for the provision of 3He, as well as better data quality and reduced down-time. It is also anticipated that the project will lead to at least one peer-reviewed publication.

Skills and attributes:

  • studying for a degree in either Chemistry or Materials Science
  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • laboratory experience beyond undergraduate laboratories is desirable.



  • at university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course in chemistry or materials science and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry
  • right to live and work in the UK.


  • in the 3rd year or higher of studies.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • Chemical laboratory experience beyond undergraduate laboratories, via e.g. a summer internship.

Personal Skills, Qualities and Attributes


  • excellent written communication skills.


  • evidence of ability to work independently, via e.g. a summer internship.

In addition to the competitive salary, an excellent index linked pension scheme and generous leave allowance are offered. Full details of offered benefits can be found on STFC’s careers pages.

From April 2018, STFC will be part of UK Research and Innovation. UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. The aim is to create a system that maximises the contribution of each of the component parts and creates the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision for the new organisation is to be the best research and innovation agency in the world. More information can be found online here.

Applications are handled by UK Shared Business Services. To apply please download the application form and save it to your pc. You must upload the completed form and a covering letter to support your application. Please save all your documents with the IRC reference number in the filename and your name.

STFC Sandwich Student Application Form

You must be on a sandwich degree and be taking the industrial placement as a recognised sandwich year to be eligible. You must also have the right to work in the UK. Please ensure that you include a reference from your University as part of your application form.

You can apply for up to three Sandwich student placements; this will require you to complete ONE application form however please ensure that you upload the application form to all three placements and save the relevant reference number (e.g. IRC205817) in the filename of each application that you upload.

Closing date: 30th October 2017
Interview/assessment date: 28th – 29th November 2017

As this job does not fulfil the Home Office Code of Practice criterion for obtaining sponsored migrant worker status we will be unable to apply for sponsorship for anyone not eligible to work in the UK.  At interview, all shortlisted candidates are required to bring with them identification documents and original documents that prove they hold or can obtain the right to work in the UK. You can check your eligibility here: