Postdoctoral Research Associate - Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Didcot, Oxfordshire (GB)
£31,931 to £34,709 per annum
30 Sep 2021
31 Oct 2021

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Science and Technology Facilities Council

Salary: £31,931 to £34,709 per annum (dependent on skills and experience). 
Hours: Full time.
Contract Type: Fixed Term (3 Years)
Location: Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Harwell, Oxfordshire.

About this role:

Our ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Facility now seeks to appoint a Post-Doctoral Research Associate to work on the EPSRC funded project entitled “Spin-orbit coupling and dimensionality at the heart of quantum magnetism of heavy transition metal oxides”. This project is jointly funded between ISIS Facility and University College London and it will be focused on experimental condensed matter physics to investigate novel quantum materials. In particular, this project will focus on the quantum spin liquid states of matter, which are generally characterised by their long-range quantum entanglement, fractionalised excitations, and absence of ordinary magnetic order, using multiple experimental techniques along with the materials synthesis.

Summary of Key Responsibilities:

The work will involve the synthesis of various quantum materials based on heavy transition metal oxides in both polycrystalline and high-quality single crystals form, and the subsequent characterisation of their structural and physical (magnetic and transport) properties. The crystals will be grown using various techniques such as the floating zone method using optical mirror furnaces, flux growth and the chemical vapour transport at the ISIS Facility. Extensive laboratory based powder and single crystal x-ray diffraction work will be carried out. The low temperature (down to mK) magnetization and thermal transport measurements will be carried out in collaboration with the project partners at Warwick University and Johannesburg University. The selected materials will be further investigated using multiple advanced characterisation techniques, such as neutron scattering, muon spin rotations and synchrotron x-ray scattering experiments.

Within this role, you will play a leading role in materials synthesis and lab-based characterisation, beam time applications and participation in experiments at international facilities using neutron, muon and x-ray techniques, data analysis and dissemination of the results. Communication skills for disseminating the results within the team communication framework and during virtual, internal discussions, and subsequently in potential publications are an important requirement of this position.

Scientific aim of the project:

The project is focused on investigations of various low dimensional quantum materials, frustrated magnets and topological materials based on heavy transition metal oxides using multiple experimental techniques. We aim to develop comprehensive understanding of the fundamental properties of an important and emerging family of quantum materials based on heavy transition metal oxides. The unique phenomenology predicted for these materials, for which the enhanced spin-orbit interaction and dimensionality play a pivotal role, display a plethora of novel electronic and magnetic states, which encompass many concepts at the forefront of magnetism. For example formation of chiral spin liquids and quantum dimers in one dimension (1D), 2D and 3D systems, topological insulators, the nature of fractional excitations and the effects of frustration on quantum systems.

About you:

You will hold a PhD at the time of application and you should be trained in experimental solid-state synthesis; synthesis of transition metal based oxide materials and have experience of crystal growth methods and low-temperature physical properties measurements techniques.

Experience with x-ray diffraction, muon spin rotation and neutron or x-ray scattering will be an advantage.

You are encouraged to work independently and in cooperation with other members of the research team. You will be able to demonstrate excellent planning and time management skills to ensure your research objectives are achieved effectively.

About Us

The ISIS Neutron & Muon Source is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Our suite of neutron and muon instruments give unique insights into the properties of materials at the atomic scale. We support a national and international community of more than 3000 scientists for research into subjects ranging from clean energy and the environment, pharmaceuticals and health care, through to nanotechnology and materials engineering, catalysis and polymers and on to fundamental studies of materials. You can learn more about the facility here

Person Specification:

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


  • Hold a PhD or equivalent in a relevant Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, or related subject area (S)
  • Experience of solid state synthesis of polycrystalline transition metal oxides materials (S)
  • Some experience or knowledge of single crystal growth techniques (S&I)
  • Experience of (powder or single crystal) x-ray diffraction techniques (S&I))
  • Experience of muon and neutron or x-ray scattering experiments (S&I)
  • Ability to initiate, plan, implement and deliver programmes of research work to meet defined timescales. (S&I)
  • Ability to work optimally both independently and as part of a research team (I)
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (S&I)
  • Ability to collaborate with external collaborators and project partners (S&I)
  • Ability to write and produce scientific papers and present results at conferences (S&I)


  • Experience in the use of optical floating zone technique for crystal growth (S&I)
  • Ability to carry out low temperature transport, magnetic and heat capacity measurements (S&I)
  • Ability to perform and participate in experiments at central facilities for neutron/x-ray and muon measurements and analyse the collected data (S&I)
  • Experience of working on heavy transition mental oxide materials (S&I)
  • Experience of RIXS, XMCD, XAS, HAXPES and ARPES measurements techniques (S&I)
  • Knowledge of data analysis software such as Mantid, Horace, Mslice, FullProf (S&I)

Special Requirements:

  • Comfortable working in radiation facility (I)
  • Willing to work flexible hours when required(I)
  • Willing to undertake occasional travel within the UK and overseas (I)
  • Enthusiasm, motivation and initiative (I)

Please direct all informal inquiries to Devashibhai Adroja (

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. 

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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