Senior Laser Scientist – Vulcan at STFC

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Salary: £50,702 to £72,700 per annum (based on the salary range £50,702 – £64,786, plus up to £7,914 of recruitment/retention allowances per annum) 

Hours: Full time

Contract Type: Fixed Term (6 years)

Location: Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Oxfordshire

Come and discover the kind of impact you can make when you work with some of the best facilities and brightest scientists in the world.

An exciting opportunity exists to join the Central Laser Facility (CLF), at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, to work in a new project called Vulcan 20-20. The Vulcan high power laser facility sits at the heart of the CLF, and for decades has been internationally recognised as a globally leading laser facility, providing access for UK and international researchers working on a wide range of topics in high energy density and plasma science. 

The CLF has recently secured funding for an ambitious £82M upgrade to the Vulcan facility (termed Vulcan 20-20) to increase its power to 20 PW, and its energy to 20 kJ. It will be the highest power laser in the world. We are looking for a wide range of scientists and engineers with excellent technical skills to help design, build and deliver Vulcan 20-20.

As part of the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC), the CLF contains many state-of-the-art laser systems and experimental stations, along with expert scientists, engineers and technicians that work with academic and industry users to deliver science across a broad range of fields. The CLF has around 200 staff and it is a very friendly, outgoing, externally facing sort of place.  It has a welcoming and inclusive culture, and you will find that people will naturally help and support you.

About the role

You will join the Vulcan 20-20 team and lead the high energy amplification of the broadband pulse to achieve the 20 PW peak power requirement. You will work on the development of the novel amplification stages based on the OPCPA technique and work on preserving the bandwidth of the short pulses. 

The key areas of the role include:

  • leading the design of the high energy OPCPA amplification stages, including modelling of the amplification stages to ensure they meet the required specification
  • leading the installation and commissioning of the amplification stages
  • liaising with the engineer team to design key specialist equipment
  • working closely with other technical leads of the project responsible for the design of key parts of the facility
  • financial responsibility for the amplification systems budget

About You

You will have a PhD or equivalent experience in a relevant field, as well having postdoctoral experience in a relevant scientific area with a record of independent research or autonomous thinking. 

You should have good knowledge of laser science and nonlinear optics. You will ideally be familiar with the OPCPA technique and have experience in short pulse amplification, in addition you will have experience of using optical design software.

With good interpersonal skills you should have the ability to work as part of a team of individuals with a varying range of knowledge and experience.

Person Specification 

The following criteria will be assessed at Shortlisting (S), Interview (I) or both (S&I)

  • a PhD in physics or a closely related subject (or equivalent experience) (S)
  • extensive knowledge of optics and laser physics (S&I)
  • experience in the development of laser amplification systems and/or ultra short laser pulse generation systems (S&I)
  • experience in scientific instrument development and design (S&I)
  • able to work as part of a team and seek novel solutions to problems  (I)
  • experience with Zemax or other equivalent optical design software  (I)
  • previous experience in the management of projects and / or people (S&I)

We ask some of the biggest questions in the universe, to answer some of the biggest challenges in the world. Together, our scientists, technologists, engineers and business support team explore the unknown across every field you could think of. And they turn what they find into work that changes the world around us. 

What could you achieve with the world-leading facilities and experts of one of Europe’s largest research organisations by your side? Join us and discover what’s possible.

For more information, please visit or contact Cristina.Hernandez-Gomez.

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 salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme.  For more details, visit benefits of working for UKRI.

The role holder will be required to have the appropriate level of security screening/vetting required for the role.  UKRI reserves the right to run or re-run security clearance as required during the course of employment.

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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