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Solid State Chemistry / Condensed Matter Physics Sandwich Student

Placement at The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Solid State Chemistry / Condensed Matter Physics Sandwich Student

Placement at The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

  • LocationDidcot, UK
  • Position levelPlacement
  • Job period iconFull-time employment
  • Application deadline iconPosted on 11 Oct, 2018
  • Start date iconStart date:
  • Visa iconVisa Sponsor
  • Competitive£ 19,136.0 per year

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 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.

The Crystallography Group at ISIS carries out personal and collaborative research programs using neutron diffraction in various fields of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering. The Crystallography Group is responsible for the operation of 9 neutron diffraction and imaging instruments at the ISIS Facility, which is located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The Group typically supports around 200 experiments per year, across a diverse range of academic and industrial disciplines. These studies investigate the crystal structures of materials and how the atomic arrangement influences their bulk properties.

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

  • After an initial training phase covering the relevant science background and experimental techniques, the post will involve:
  • synthesis of new transition metal oxide materials with novel and potentially technologically relevant electronic and magnetic properties (e.g.ferroelectrics and quantum magnets
  • sample characterisation by x-ray diffraction, providing feedback for synthesis optimisation
  • in-depth studies of their crystal structures using neutron diffraction under varying conditions, including e.g. variable temperature and pressure studies
  • linking the crystal structure with physical properties through e.g. magnetic, thermodynamic and dielectric characterisation measurements at the ISIS Materials Characterisation Laboratory
  • relating these findings to established understanding and new developments in the field.

A key part of the project will be the elucidation of the structural basis of the physical properties through detailed analysis of the crystal structures and their changes with e.g. temperature, chemical composition and pressure. This will allow understanding of the critical ingredients for their intriguing and potentially useful properties and thereby provide insight into pathways for optimising these properties, as well as clues to potential new families of interesting materials.

In addition to this science programme, the project will have strong links to the High Resolution Powder Diffractometer (HRPD) instrument, with parallel development of standard materials optimised for benchmarking and testing key development characteristics for this instrument.

You will be working in a small interdisciplinary research team dedicated to the understanding of crystal structure-physical property relationships from a fundamental science viewpoint and will have the opportunity to undertake a wide range of research activities across the chemistry/physics boundary, along with developing skills to communicate your research.

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)
  • right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • background in chemistry and / or physics at degree level (S&I)
  • strong scientific motivation and independent approach to problems (S&I)
  • happy to work in an active environment with a mixture of lab- and office-based work (S&I)
  • experience of working in a laboratory environment (I)
  • attention to detail, careful record keeping and the ability to multitask and prioritise effectively (I).


  • understanding of general concepts in solid state chemistry / condensed matter physics and interest in developing this (I)
  • experience in solid state synthesis and/or physical property measurements (e.g. specific heat, magnetisation, electrical characterisation) (S&I)
  • experience in laboratory x-ray diffraction (I)
  • experience in data analysis using e.g. Matlab, Origin or other scientific software (I)
  • experience working with chemicals and understanding of relevant general safety practices (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. 

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 November 2018

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