Ion Trap Physicist Summer Placement


Science and Technology Facilities Council

Salary: £20,650 
Hours: Full time
Contract Type: Fixed Term for  8-12 weeks
Location: Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Harwell, Oxfordshire
Interviews: The recruitment process involves a technical interview only that will take place onsite or virtually in April 2024
Start: June/July 2024

The NQCC is the UK’s national centre for quantum computing, dedicated to accelerating its development by addressing the challenges of scaling up the technology. Our vision is to enable the UK to solve some of the most complex and challenging problems facing society by harnessing the potential of quantum computing. The centre is working with businesses, the government, and the research community to deliver quantum computing capabilities for the UK and support the growth of the emerging industry.

The NQCC’s programme represents a £93m investment and is being delivered jointly by the research councils, EPSRC and STFC, as part of UK Research and Innovation. The centre is headquartered within STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory site at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

We are excited to provide the opportunity for three summer placement students to work with scientists in the NQCC’s Trapped Ions Quantum Computing Team, to support our development of quantum computing hardware. We will support the development of your skills within a diverse team working towards the NQCC’s goals of delivering scalable quantum computing capabilities. This will include the opportunity to work across one or more of the following elements:

  • Hands-on development (laser systems, cryogenic systems, vacuum systems, electronics)
  • Measurements and data analysis
  • Software for experimental control
  • Horizon scoping and planning

This is a fantastic opportunity for students who enjoy working well individually, collaborating with a team, and also interested in quantum science and technology!

Summer Placements at STFC

STFC’s incredibly diverse range of placements allows you to work alongside world-leading engineers, scientists, and technicians in highly collaborative environments. Whichever you choose, you will become a critical member of the team in which you will be exposed to exciting projects and challenges from the start. You will also be supported every step of the way by our dedicated Early Careers Development Team 

STFC offers a benefits package crafted to provide an excellent work/life balance including flexible working hours, health promotion programmes, and subsidised restaurant and coffee outlets. For more information on our full list of benefits, please visit here:

About the role

Within this placement, responsibilities will include:

  • Contributing to the design, development, assembly, and optimisation of ion trap quantum computing systems
  • Contributing to experiments and control systems
  • Developing monitoring systems for the lab environment
  • Developing active stabilisation of laser systems
  • Communicating progress and discussing results with NQCC scientists

To apply for this placement, we are looking for the following:

Essential criteria:

  • Are in full-time education at university, and will be returning to university/your studies to complete your undergraduate degree following the placement
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK for the duration of the placement
  • Currently working towards a relevant STEM undergraduate degree
  • A demonstrable interest in quantum science and technology
  • Good communication skills
  • Experience working in a team, and being able to demonstrate autonomy within their area of responsibility
  • Experience in programming in Python (or similar languages)

Desirable criteria:

  • Experience in working in a laboratory – in particular with optics, lasers, or high-voltage supplies
  • Understanding of database management, servers, or Graphana
  • Knowledge of quantum computing or related fields

Important Information

Please note that we can only accept two applications per candidate.

Part of our application process involves submitting your CV and a cover letter. Your cover letter should address your suitability for the opportunity based on how you meet each essential criterion stated in this advert.

We also hold the right to close this vacancy early if a sufficient number of applications have been received. 

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we ask the biggest questions in the universe to find answers that change the world around us. We seek understanding. We’re proud of the impact we make. And we’re committed to helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy. Being part of all this means contributing to work that pushes boundaries and creates possibilities. You’ll work with, and learn from, true experts. Whatever your role, you’ll be free to question and encouraged to share ideas. And, in a positive and supportive culture, you’ll discover just what a difference you can make when you’re equipped and inspired to excel.

We’re a place where curious minds thrive. Not bound by profit, we explore ideas that others don’t, ask questions that others won’t, and discover answers that others are not equipped to find. And, alongside Mars landings and black holes, we also explore diverse, international projects in everything from science and engineering to computing and technology. Whether it’s at the cutting edge or behind the scenes, our work is intellectually challenging. It’s very often ground-breaking.  And it’s endlessly, irresistibly fascinating.

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  

Choosing to come to work at UKRI means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme, excellent holiday entitlement, access to employee shopping/travel discounts and a salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme.  For more details, visit benefits of working for UKRI.

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 receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation. 

How to apply 

Online applications are 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 interested in developing their career with us. 

Additional Information

  • Organisation: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract
  • External Closing Date: Mar 10, 2024
  • Minimum Salary: Pound Sterling (GBP) 20,650
  • Hours: Full-time