Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC239615
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £29900
Date Posted 05 January 2017
Grade RC-D
Contract Type Fixed Term Appointment
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 29 January 2017
Interview Date

Salary: £29,900 - £30,545
Grade: D
Contract Type: Fixed Term (3 years)
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 29th January 2017
Interview Date: Expected 9th/10th February (Provisional)


The ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences. It is owned and operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

ISIS produces beams of neutrons and muons that allow scientists to study materials at the atomic level using a suite of instruments. It supports a national and international community of more than 2000 scientists who use neutrons and muons for research in physics, chemistry, materials science, geology, engineering and biology. It is the most productive research centre of its type in the world.

The Support Laboratories Group operates a number of specialist laboratories at ISIS which are used in conjunction with neutron and muon experiments, covering a broad range of sciences.  These laboratories include the Materials Characterisation Laboratory (MCL), which is used to characterise and study samples for beam time experiments, as well as supporting the science programme at ISIS.  The MCL boasts a wide range of instrumentation and analytical equipment used by the ISIS User community and staff, as well as other research staff on the RAL campus.  This suite of instruments allows a wealth of physical property information to be obtained.  The instruments include two Single Crystal X-ray Diffractometers, four Powder X-ray Diffractometers/Reflectometers, an X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and a Small Angle Scattering (SAXS) instrument.

We require a highly skilled technical scientist with experience in X-ray laboratory instrumentation, to support the safe and efficient operations of these X-ray facilities.

Detailed Job Description:

X-ray Service:

  • assist the Materials Characterisation Laboratory Manager in ensuring that an effective, efficient X-ray service is delivered to ISIS users and staff
  • ensure the service meets the needs of a wide range of users and monitor the workflow of experiments carried out by the service
  • maintain up-to-date email lists for users and during problems, provide plenty of feedback to users through the group mailing lists and web pages.

X-ray Safety:

  • fulfil the role of Deputy Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS), following relevant training
  • assist in the authoring of documentation, safety policies, Local Rules and procedures and ensure compliance with STFC SHE Codes and legislation in consultation with the STFC RPA and the ISIS Support Laboratories Group
  • carry out radiation safety training for users
  • ensure that only researchers who have fully complied with safety policy are allowed to use the laboratories
  • maintain up-to-date safety records for X-ray users and diffractometers on the lab SharePoint area along with associated paperwork
  • carry out regular radiation checking of the diffractometers in accordance with the Local Rules and keep records of safety checks.

Equipment Maintenance:

  • regularly check the alignment and calibration of single crystal and powder X-ray diffractometers and X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometers
  • switch optics, sample environments and detectors, ensuring correct alignment for users as required
  • carry out routine repairs on diffractometers and ancillary equipment to ensure minimum downtime
  • liaise with engineers for advice on new issues and when required, coordinate repair visits
  • ensure ancillary equipment e.g. cryojets, chillers, air conditioning etc are regularly checked and if appropriate arrange for servicing or preventative maintenance visits
  • ensure equipment bookings are kept up to date
  • document problems and solutions.

Laboratory Support:

  • train users how to prepare samples and carry out routine diffraction experiments
  • provide the Laboratory Manager with assistance in ensuring that the laboratory is kept well stocked with consumables
  • fill Dewars with liquid nitrogen/helium when required
  • ensure that the laboratory is kept clean and tidy and arrange for the safe disposal of samples.

Budget and Procurement:

  • assist in the day-to-day management of the laboratory budget
  • assist in the calculation of costing estimates for diffractometer maintenance and servicing
  • ensure maintenance contracts for the year are in place on all essential equipment
  • order spare parts and consumables.

Routine Measurements:

  • carry out routine powder/thin film diffraction measurements for researchers
  • carry out routine single crystal diffraction data collections, structure solutions and refinements.

Instrument PC’s and Research Data:

  • maintain up-to-date email lists of current users
  • collaborate with IT support to ensure data is backed up and accessible to users
  • keep X-ray related software updated on PCs
  • maintain the required hardware devices for each instrument
  • keep track of publications resulting from work carried out on the diffractometer, and ensure they are collated on the e-pubs system.  

Shortlisting Criteria


  • degree in Chemistry/Physics ,or related subject or equivalent qualification
  • experience working in an X-ray diffraction laboratory
  • experience calibrating and aligning X-ray diffractometers
  • sound knowledge of X-ray safety
  • experience carrying out powder diffraction experiments
  • experience carrying out routine single crystal diffraction experiments, structure solutions and refinements
  • experience in dealing with external suppliers.


  • in depth knowledge of certain areas of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics
  • comprehensive knowledge of PC systems hardware, software and networking and ability to troubleshoot
  • experience liaising with technical teams and engineers to deal with instrument faults.

Interview Criteria


  • an ability to problem-solve
  • an ability to work effectively as part of team
  • an ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and users
  • an aptitude for self-organization, task prioritisation and work management.


  • in-depth knowledge of, or demonstrated ability to learn, how to identify faults in X-ray diffractometers
  • completion of, or willingness to undertake, safety courses geared to attaining knowledge at Radiation Protection  Supervisor level
  • the ability to learn new skills by working closely with system engineers to maintain the diffractometers.
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.

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:

Online applications only, please submit a covering letter and CV, ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the file name description of each document uploaded. No Agencies.

The closing date for applications is 29th January. The interview/assessment date for this vacancy is to be confirmed, and will be held at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot.

We want to make our application process as easy for you as we possibly can. If you experience any problems in applying for this job, or have any feedback for us about the application process, please contact our Recruitment Hotline on 01793 867000 (8.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday). Please quote the appropriate IRC reference number when calling.