Polarized Neutrons Sandwich Student - Placement

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
09 Oct 2018
06 Nov 2018
Start Date
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. To find out more about STFC please see one of our videos:

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 3He filling station is used to prepare so-called neutron spin-filters, vessels containing highly polarized 3He gas - where the magnetic moments of the 3He nuclei point in the same direction - which are used to filter out one polarization state from a neutron beam. These neutron spin-filters are then used for neutron scattering experiments at various instruments at ISIS. The 3He filling station consists of two main parts; a high power (45 W) fibre laser optical system for polarizing the 3He at low pressure and a non-magnetic compressor for filling the neutron spin-filters.

One of the main limitations of the technique is the level to which the 3He nuclei can be polarized. At the moment our 3He filling station can achieve a level around 70% nuclear polarization - but 80% should be possible, which would lead to much more efficient neutron spin filtering (by up to a factor of 2). This project will focus on improving the levels of 3He polarization in our labs with a program of modernization and optimization of the optical components of the 3He filling station.

In this context, the role of the polarized neutrons sandwich student will be to:
  • perform diagnostics on the existing 3He filling station hardware, identifying areas where improvements can be made
  • participate in the design and construction of a new laser and optical system for the 3He filling station
  • test the upgraded 3He filling station using a range of experimental techniques (optical polarimetry, nuclear magnetic resonance, and neutron beam measurements)
  • otherwise assist the polarized neutron technician with the maintenance and day-to-day operation of the 3He filling station, including the support of user experiments.

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

If successful, the project should lead to a dramatic improvement in our capability for the provision of highly polarized 3He, as well as better data quality from our neutron instruments. It is also anticipated that the project will lead to at least one peer-reviewed publication.

Shortlisting (S) and Interview (I) Criteria

  • 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)
  • studying for a degree in either Physics or an optics-related discipline (e.g. Optical engineering) (S)
  • right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • good written communication skills (S&I)
  • evidence of good laboratory skills (I)
  • ability to work as part of a wider team, as well as on own initiative (I)
  • willingness to learn (I)
  • comfortable with working with high power laser systems (I)

  • some familiarity with modern optics, and analytical techniques (S)
  • some optical laboratory experience beyond undergraduate level (e.g. summer internship) (S)
  • basic awareness of the project context (I)
  • basic understanding of scattering techniques (I).

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.

Interview Date: 27th - 29th of November 2018

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