Developing new technologies

My work focussed on developing accelerator technologies for ultrafast structural science at Daresbury Laboratory. My main project was developing an ultrafast electron diffraction scheme. This was a new experiment where I helped to build the equipment and install it into the accelerator hall.

Ultrafast electron diffraction makes it possible to record fast dynamic processes that can't be observed with current technology. This was a major achievement for the laboratory in a relatively new area of physics.

I also gained computational experience, developing code to optimise the magnetic undulator structure in a free electron laser.

Travelling to the US and gaining presenting experience

I got the incredible opportunity to travel to the US to present my work on my project at the International Particle Accelerator Conference. This was definitely the best part of my placement. I had a great time presenting my poster and talking to experts in this area about what I had achieved. I also got to visit the Jefferson Laboratory and attend talks on a wide range of accelerator science topics.

During my placement I was also able to carry out a lot of outreach work. I demonstrated experiments to over 60,000 people at the National Big Bang fair in Birmingham. This was brilliant experience in presenting and engaging with different groups of people.

Standing out from the crowd

An industrial placement was an easy decision for me. I wanted to give myself the best chance at employment that I could, and doing a placement really helps you find a job once you graduate. Sometimes a degree alone doesn’t give you enough experience to make you stand out from the crowd.

Before my placement, I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted a job in physics research or in a different area entirely. My placement gave me the hands-on experience to help me make that decision.