Tom Loxley spends an exciting time in the QUASAR Group

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The QUASAR Group frequently offers placement and internship opportunities to students. These offer a unique opportunity to experience our activities first-hand, to get an insight into our R&D, and to speak with our researchers. Most recently, Tom Loxley from Warrington joined our group - you can read about his experience in the report below.

My summer work placement has provided me with an invaluable experience that has given me an insight into what it might be like to work as a Ph.D. student in the field of physics and more specifically accelerator physics. During my week at Daresbury I’ve met many junior fellows who are researching as part of their Ph.D. and working at the forefront of what is arguably the most prominent and exciting field of physics at present. The team here is called the QUASAR Group and consists of a diverse range of Ph.D. students, supported by academics who are all from many different backgrounds and universities brought together by one common interest. However, their research, which includes both experimental and simulation, covers areas such as beam diagnostics, beam dynamics, medical accelerators, and even antimatter, all of which is essential research and is used to help design, build and optimize some of the most famous accelerators around the world, including CERN. I have been inspired by all of the work I have seen this week; it has challenged me to consider the possibilities that could await me after studying physics. It has also helped to demonstrate to me the broad range of disciplines that this body of research spans; this will help me to keep my options and future job prospects open.

Some of the most interesting research projects I have seen this week include one involving gas jet beam diagnostics and another involving using a new device called a digital micromirror. The first project uses an experimental setup based at Daresbury and is being researched as a new non-invasive way to measure the transverse profile of the beam using a gas jet and could be implemented at HL-LHC. Gas jet monitoring of the transverse beam profile is an already available technology however, the students here are working on reducing the amount of gas that is necessary to be injected into the pipe to ensure a minimal rise in pressure in the vacuum environment of the beam pipe. The second project is using the digital micromirror device to image the beam halo, which is essentially a cloud of particles that travel outside the core of the beam and can produce adverse effects such as damage to beamline components and an increase in background radiation. Therefore, it is essential to understand the factors that contribute to the formation of the beam halo. The new device enables this as it is formed from an array of mirrors which can each be addressed individually to reflect a certain part of the light incident on it. This allows the light produced by the beam halo to be seen on a camera without seeing the light produced by the beam core which could possibly damage the sensor. Both of these projects were incredibly interesting to me and challenged me to understand the complex concepts and mechanics behind the proposals of the experiments. This also made clear to me the independence and self-reliance required during a Ph.D. research project. Leading your own new and unique research helps you to develop essential skills like being able to work to solve a problem independently which is a skill potential employers or other research groups will be looking for.

Perhaps, most importantly during my work placement here at Daresbury, I got a good sense of the feeling of community between students. It is important now more than ever for good communication skills to be part of your skillset and the students here clearly have that. Good communication allows for scientific collaboration to take place to improve ideas or to suggest improvements that a particular individual might not have thought of immediately. The students were ready to take time out of their schedules to explain to me the details of their experiments in terms I would understand as an A-Level student and I felt very privileged and grateful for this.

My work placement at Daresbury Laboratory truly was an exciting and inspiring experience that has encouraged me to pursue a research career in physics after seeing the magnitude of the innovative research that is done here at Daresbury and the international effect that it has.


In case you would like to join us for an internship, please do not hesitate to send us an email.