Low energy positron beam development

Project Supervisors:

Closing date for applications:  applications accepted all year round

Project description:

Low energy positron beams have found uses in many areas such as:

  • the formation of antihydrogen. The first laboratory based antihydrogen was produced in 2002 by the ATHENA collaboration based at CERN, of which we were integral members and continue to be members of ATHENA’s successor, the ALPHA collaboration (http://alpha.web.cern.ch);
  • non-destructive defect analysis and their propagation within materials;
  • identification and characterisation of “impurities” within materials, specifically doping concentrations of semiconductors.

However, the low positron source strengths typically available make them unsuitable for use in many applications. Fortunately, the use of buffer gas traps has enabled many other research avenues to be pursed. As the only such device in Wales, 1 of 2 in the UK & of a handful in the world, its continued use, development and improvement is of significant importance.

Recently published research from our group has provided ideas for several possible improvements to the trapping efficiency, trapped number and particle densities that can be achieved from such a device. A suitable student will use these to advance the apparatus, investigate physical principles such as positron-molecule interactions, inter-particle dynamics and study the theoretically difficult intermediate state in between a plasma (high density) and single particle (low density) dynamics.

The student will develop highly specialised skills related to antimatter production, storage and it’s uses but also highly transferrable skills admired by industry related to lasers and optics, computer programming, CAD & development, electronics, EM fields, vacuum technology, cryogenics, data and signal analysis to name a few. There might also be the possibility of temporary assignment to work on the ALPHA antihydrogen experiment based at CERN to further test or implement advances in the studies developed at Swansea.

This is a non-funded PhD opportunity available at Swansea University College of Science and based in the Department of Physics.


Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours or a Masters degree (with Merit), in a relevant discipline. Informal enquiries are welcome by emailing Professor M. Charlton m.charlton@swansea.ac.uk).

How to apply:

Please send the following to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk :

  • A comprehensive CV to include:
    • Details of qualifications, including grades
    • Details of any current and relevant employment or work experience
  • A covering letter stating why the project you are applying for particularly matches your skills and experience and how you would choose to develop the project