Recruiting for UKRI and UK SBS

Polarized Neutrons Industrial Placement - STFC

Early Careers
210000V5 Requisition #

Science and Technology Facilities Council

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. 

The ISIS Neutron & Muon Instrument Development group (NMIDG) was recently formed to develop new instrumentation and simulation methods and to provide staff training and advice. Within NMIDG, the Polarized Neutrons section is responsible for the development of new polarized instrumentation and software, as well as the provision of polarized infrastructure for several instruments. It currently consists of two scientists and one technician and operates the FLYNN metastable exchange optical pumping 3He filling station. Examples of recent projects include the installation of a polarization analysis mode on the LET spectrometer, and the replacement of the laser system on FLYNN. Previous placement students played a meaningful role in the successful execution of both projects. 

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities  

Polarized neutron beams - beams in which the spins of the neutrons are aligned in the same direction with respect to a magnetic field - can be used to improve the information gained from nearly any neutron scattering experiment. To give one example, they enable the separation of collective from single-particle or molecule motions in systems ranging from solvents to polymers, as recently demonstrated in an experiment on heavy water (D2O) using the LET spectrometer ( 

The provision of polarized neutron capabilities on an instrument requires the installation of several additional components, including a polarizer to prepare the polarized incident beam and an analyzer to distinguish the change in beam polarization after scattering from the sample. A commonly used technology for both is 3He spin-filters, vessels that contain 3He gas with a high atomic polarization, where, as for polarized neutron beams, the atomic spins in the gas are preferentially aligned. In the FLYNN filling station, this is achieved by optically pumping metastable 3He atoms with high-power lasers. 3He spin filters exploit the fact that a 3He atom in a particular spin state absorbs neutrons with the opposite spin state, and thus, that a volume of polarized 3He gas will transmit only one spin state of the neutron beam. 

The Polarized Neutrons section is now looking for an independent, creative, willing and motivated placement student to carry out development work on hyperpolarized 3He techniques, more specifically for two connected projects: 

Magic box – the performance of 3He spin filters is extremely sensitive to magnetic field gradients, which lead to a time-dependent degradation in the 3He polarization, and hence the neutron transmission and polarization. This requires the design of highly homogenous magnetic field environments called magic boxes, which extend the useful lifetime of the 3He spin filters. The project seeks to replace the current design with a new, more compact one that will provide both greater flexibility in the deployment of 3He on instruments and better performance. The project will involve electromagnetic simulations, optimization, mechanical design, and testing using both nuclear magnetic resonance and neutron transmission experiments. 

3He cell development - in addition to magnetic field gradients, the walls of the spin-filter vessel, typically made of glass, also contribute to the decay of the 3He polarization with time. While the exact physical mechanisms are poorly understood, surface adsorption, magnetic defects, and surface chemistry are all thought to play important roles. We have recently launched a project to prepare spin filter cells from materials that are cleaner and more reproducible than glass, like single crystal silicon. The project will involve cell design, assembly, and preparation of new spin-filter cells, followed by testing using both nuclear magnetic resonance and neutron transmission. If the spin-filter cell preparation is successful, the new cells will be deployed in conjunction with the magic box for neutron scattering experiments on the Larmor instrument. 

In addition to the above, you will also have the opportunity to take part in other Polarized Neutrons section activities, including experimental support on neutron instruments. Full scientific and technical support will be provided during the placement. 

In order to apply for this role you must have:  


  • 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  
  • Right to live and work in the UK  
  • Studying for a degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or similar  
  • Evidence of good laboratory skills  
  • Basic knowledge of scripting/programming  
  • Good communication skills  
  • Willingness to learn required technical and non-technical skills  
  • Ability to work as part of a wider team, as well as on own initiative  


  • Basic awareness of the project context and of physical principles to be applied during project 
  • Basic understanding of NMR techniques  
  • Good understanding of electromagnetism  
  • Evidence of ability to work independently, via e.g. a summer internship

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

The STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation where curiosity, blue-skies thinking meets practical, application-led science and engineering. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we’re trusted to support, enable and undertake ground-breaking projects in an outstanding diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving progressive advances in science, engineering, computing and technology. Our research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale. 

For more information about STFC please visit 

You can also visit our careers site 

About UK Research Innovation (UKRI) 

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

Supporting some of the world’s most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world-class research, skills and business-led innovation. 

More information can be found at  

How we support EDI in the workforce 

At UKRI, we believe that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in an environment that enables them to do so. We also value diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community. For further information, please visit ‘How we support EDI in the workforce’

Disability Confident Employer

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy/ies. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation. 

How to apply 

Online applications only preferred for this role. Please submit a CV and covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for UKRI and the role. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit an application without a covering letter may result in the application not being considered. Assessment will only be based upon the content of your submitted covering letter and CV and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. 

UKRI seeks to ensure it creates and maintains a system of openness, fairness and inclusion – a collaborative, trusted environment, which is attractive to and accessible to everyone who is interested in developing their career with us. 

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