Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC252803
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £15631
Date Posted 11 February 2020
Contract Type Fixed Term Appointment
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 29 March 2020
Interview Date

Brief Description

Salary: £15,631 (pro rata)
Contract Type: Fixed Term (4 - 12 Weeks)
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 29th March 2020


STFC – ISIS – Physical Chemist Spectroscopy- Summer Placement 

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. For more information on STFC please view one of our videos -

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.

Glasgow-ISIS catalysis rig

Laboratory investigations of catalysts are usually carried out in microreactors on the 10 - 100 mg scale. For inelastic neutron scattering (INS) studies, the sample quantity required is~10 g i.e. at least a 100-fold larger scale. To provide the quantities needed, the Glasgow-ISIS catalysis rig has been developed as a collaboration between Professor Lennon’s group at the University of Glasgow and the ISIS Facility. The rig has proven to be highly successful and its use has expanded well beyond its original brief. Currently, it is heavily used for sample preparation by at least four different groups of ISIS users.

In parallel with the increasing use, its capabilities have also increased. The original version had on-line mass spectrometry on the exit stream to give qualitative, but real-time monitoring of the reaction products. This has recently been supplemented by on-line gas chromatograph to provide quantitative analysis. The system also now has provision for liquid feeds via an HPLC pump.

Whilst the on-line analysis is extremely useful, it only provides indirect information about the state of the catalyst.The addition of UV-vis spectroscopy would offer a means of observing the catalyst directly while it is working. In the best case, it will enable changes in the UV-vis spectra to be followed in real-time e.g. the change in oxidation state of a metal as the reaction proceeds. However, all catalysts are subject to eventual deactivation and formation of coke is a common cause of deactivation for any process that involves a carbon-containing feed. Spectroscopically, this means that the catalyst progressively blackens and this will manifest as an attenuation of the signal. Thus even in this worst case, the method should provide qualitative information about the state of the catalyst.

The aim of this project is to implement UV-vis spectroscopy on the Glasgow-ISIS catalysis rig. We have already purchased a modular commercial system that consists of a light source,a miniature monochromator and a fibre optic probe. The reaction cell has provision for the probe, thus installation should be straightforward. The major part of the work will be to develop the methodology for its use. Specifically,evaluate the long term stability (typically, reactions last from hours todays), whether single beam spectra are sufficient (if not, what do we use as a background and how often do we need a new one), and how to deal with the amount of data generated (spectra are acquired in a few minutes or less, thus over the course of the reaction, tens to hundreds may be generated).

To explore the utility of the system, we will investigate systems where the chemistry is reasonably well understood. As a simple, but catalytically relevant, system for a change in oxidation state we will reduce CuO → Cu2O → Cu i.e. Cu(II) → Cu(I) → Cu(0). For a reaction where UV-vis active species are generated we will use the methanol-to-hydrocarbons process that involves the production of methylated aromatics. This reaction has the additional advantage that deactivation is via coke formation, so this will also test how blackening of the catalyst can be followed.

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. More information can be found at

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.


  • Currently be at university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK (STFC Placement vacancies do not fulfil the Home Office Code of Practice criterion for obtaining sponsored migrant worker status, we will therefore be unable to apply for sponsorship for anyone not eligible to work in the UK)

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

To enable us to hire the very best people we will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.

Employee Benefits
UK Research and Innovation recognises and values employees as individuals and aims to provide a pay and reward package that motivates staff to the best of their ability. The reward and benefit package includes a flexible working scheme, an excellent Defined Benefit pension scheme, 30 days annual leave allowance and a number of other benefits.

Developing Talent
We are committed to developing employees in their roles throughout their career. Learning and development plans enable employees to continue their professional development through training and development opportunities such as e-learning, classroom training and on-the-job experiences. We encourage our employees to share their learning across teams and organisations.

Equal Opportunities
We strive to make decisions based on individual merit and ability. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and promote equality of opportunity in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. As holders of Disability Confident Employer status, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

Please submit a CV and Cover letter outlining your suitability for the role, ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the file name description of each document uploaded. When writing your cover letter, please think about the following:

  • Why are you suitable for this project?
  • How can you contribute to the success of the project?
  • Why do you want to work at STFC?

You can apply for a maximum of two roles.

Note: To apply for more than one vacancy, you must actively select the apply now button on each applicable vacancy.

Closing Date: 29th March 2020

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:

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