Schools/College Work Experience

Diamond Light Source's annual schools Work Experience programme offers a number of placements to school/college students in Years 10-13 (ages 14-18). The 2023 placements will take place from Monday 3rd - Friday 7th July 2023.

Applications for 2023 will open in mid-December 2022.

Schools Work Experience at Diamond Light Source...

This video was made by students from Trinity Academy, Brixton as part of their 2022 work experience project

Diamond's work experience programme gives students the chance to come and work at one of the UK’s leading science facilities for a week. Initially students will receive a day's introduction to Diamond and a look around the facility to see first hand how it operates. The main element of the week will be a three day project in a specific area, which students will complete and then present to their peers and other visitors on the final day (friends and family welcome). There will also be a chance to get involved in group activities and time to meet their peers and Diamond staff.

Applicants need to apply for specific projects, see below for the available projects and details of the application process.

The placements are open to students in years 10-13 (typically 14-18 years old), although one of the placement objectives is to give guidance towards further careers or study, so students who have secured a higher education place are less likely to be offered a Work Experience placement (usually year 13 students).

Please be aware students will be expected to work a full day (9am-5pm) and it is their responsibility to make any travel/accommodation arrangements (if accommodation is required we can offer suggestions).

Students may apply for as many of the different projects described below as they wish. When you have reviewed the projects please click "start your application" at the bottom of this page to go to the application form.


"Everyone I met at Diamond was really kind and inspiring"

"The project was really fun and hands on"

"It was an amazing week and I definitely established that I want a career in chemistry"


2022 Work Experience Students

Key Dates

Applications Open December 2022
Applications Close Friday 17th February 2023
Shortlisted candidates contacted by

Successful candidates will be notified by Friday 3rd March 2023

Dates of Placements  Monday 3rd July - Friday 7th July



Explore the fantastic range of projects that span many areas within Diamond.

Projects for 2023 are yet to be finalised, but previous projects for the 2022 Work Experience week are listed below and many are likley to run again in 2023.

All the colours of temperature sensitive molecular systems

We are interested in how the organisation of molecules inside a crystalline material influences material properties such as colour. In this project, you will prepare samples and use powder X-ray diffraction to relate colour to structure and explore how they change when we heat or cool these materials. Materials that show a response to temperature may have functional applications such as in sensors.

Chemistry, robotics and crystallography for automating drug-discovery

At XChem, through automation, computational geekery and engineering, we believe in developing open and accessible tools to drive drug-discovery. 

In this project, you will gain drug-discovery pipeline experience – from early-stage chemistry to crystallography - working alongside XChem chemists, coding geeks and crystallographers. You will be exposed to different fields of expertise, and you will develop a better understanding of how the different scientific fields work together to drive drug-discovery.


The role of the Communications team at Diamond is to inform and engage a range of audiences which includes our staff,  the scientific user community and the general public. We do this through many methods, including running events, publishing news articles and academic papers and sharing content on our website and via social media. The team is a busy function within Diamond and the student spending the week with us, will gain an overview of all the different areas we support. The project will have a specific focus on internal communications with the student being tasked with carrying out research, conducting interviews and producing a news story to feature in Diamond’s staff newsletter and internal website.

Control Systems - FPGAs

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are fast digital logic devices for high-speed control and computation. They are widely used in a variety of applications including telecoms, guidance systems, high performance computing and data centres, and even stock market trading. At Diamond we use FPGAs mainly to control and diagnose the beams in our particle accelerators, and also in the acquisition of data from the beamline experiments. This project will introduce the student to the basic concepts of FPGAs, and give some understanding of how they work, how to program them, and why we use them. 

Create a Windows Application to control an LCD screen

Every day we come into contact with the results of programming and we often do not appreciate the complexity of the programs that run our TVs, washing machines, phones, satnavs, cameras etc., and Diamond Light Source is no different. Without programming Diamond would not be able to run any of our experiments and advance our knowledge of the world around us. In this project you will get to test your programming skills by working in Python on Linux to create a graphical user interface to control an ssd1305 LCD screen. You will show the user a panel with buttons and input-boxes that they can use to control the display. The students applying for this project should have a basic knowledge of Python - please outline your experience in your application Supporting Statement.


The new VMXi beamline is the latest member of the MX beamline family. This fully automated beamline is dedicated in situ crystallography where the crystallisation experiment is on the beamline. The student will setup crystallisation trials in the laboratory to test various crystallisation methods, review the experiment and finally collect diffraction data on the beamline to compare the outcome. To assess the outcome we’ll be looking at diffractions images and three-dimensional protein structures.


Almost all of the work done at Diamond has an element of electronic control; from the particle accelerator and experimental hutches to the safety systems and offices. So it is important that these electronic systems function correctly. The students will see an overview of how some of these systems function. They will then have an opportunity to develop hardware and software skills, while designing, building and testing their own small-scale electronic Control System.

Electronics Engineering

Diamond Light Source harnesses the power of electrons to produce super bright light that scientists use to study a wide range of subjects, however it is often difficult to demonstrate the processes that affect these electrons. In this project you will use your newly developed engineering skills to create a modular, light demonstration table to simulate the slowdown of electrons and the emission of light within the bending magnets and insertion devices of Diamond’s main particle accelerator. The project will involve training in mechanical 3D drawing, machining and electronics.

Electronics Engineering and Microcontroller Programming

Image Electronics Engineering and Microcontroller Programming

Electronic engineering is used everywhere in the modern world, from mobile phone manufacturing to synchrotron experiments. In this project, students will use electronic components to build a device, powered by an Arduino microcontroller, to measure the location of a laser using a light sensitive diode. Students will learn how to solder the electronics together, test the components and write their own code to analyse the signal from the silicon diode. At the end of the week the students will have a working beam diagnostic, that will display the location of the beam. 

Health Physics

The Electron accelerators used to create synchrotron radiation at Diamond emit neutron and x-ray radiation which can harm living organisms when used in an unsafe way. To keep the workplace safe, Health Physics (HP) group provides a very vital role. A student working in the HP team will be involved in day to day tasks including; using radiation monitors, analysis of radiation monitoring data, environment monitoring techniques and a project to design a jig for checking the geometrical effect, linearity, sensitivity, consistency etc. of the radiation monitor.

In House Legal - Commercial Law

The legal team at Diamond monitors legal and regulatory developments in the UK and overseas in relation to Diamond's activities, as well as providing support and advice on a range of legal matters relating to Diamond. The student will have the opportunity to get involved in live matters the legal team are dealing with, which will encompass a range of commercial law issues and provide an overview of the range of work the legal team undertakes. The work undertaken could include requests for contracts, analysing any legal or regulatory risks, communicating with Diamond staff on matters and drafting contracts.

Investigating neurons

Investigating the neuron in a frozen hydrated state at 42000x magnification. At the electron bio-imaging centre (eBIC) we operate various microscopes that can shine light, technically electrons, through molecular and cellular samples at magnifications from low ranges i.e. 19000x to i.e. 160kx. In the project you will investigate how to acquire a 3D volume (tomogram) of neurons that have been grown on an electron microscopy (EM) support film (grid), have been frozen rapidly to turn water into amorphous ice and after freezing can then be loaded into the microscope for imaging. You will operate the microscope, search for an interesting neuron region i.e. a synapse which is the nerve terminal where signal transduction is taking place, setup a tomogram and following acquisition we will reconstruct the tomogram into a movie.

Measuring electron structure

Measuring the electron structure of a novel material using synchrotron light - the aim of this project is to perform a mini experiment, to be immerged in the real world of international scientists in order to have a flavour of what experimental science means. The activity will include sample preparation, measurements and analysis of the data.

Mechanical Engineering 1

Flexure hinges are monolithic hinges which are used in Nano-positioning engineering as well as lunch box lids.

The student will use a 3D CAD package to design the hinge. The hinge dimensions must be selected to keep the mechanical stress below the material yield stress to create an elastic mechanical joint. The design will be optimised using the finite element analysis package ANSYS, to produce stress and deflection plots. The result will be a design which may be used in a real application at Diamond.

Mechanical Engineering 2

Mechanical Engineering at Diamond involves designing cutting edge machinery, mechanisms and instruments to enable world class science.
The student will have the chance to work on a small project during which they will use the same tools and processes that the Engineering Team employ. For example Microsoft Project to create project plans/Gantt charts, 3D CAD (Creo 4) to produce part models and drawings, Finite Element Analysis (Ansys 17) to evaluate concept designs and rapid prototyping using 3D printers.

Nanocluster Science on Membranes

At beamline B07 we’re interested in the surfaces of materials, normally the top 0.00001 mm of a material. This project will involve producing and depositing small clusters of atoms which exhibit unique properties. The project will also involve investigating the flow rate of water through an instrument which will be used to make hydrogen from water, which is of particular interest to the hydrogen fuel industry.

Nanoimaging of Li-ion batteries

Li-ion batteries are playing a major role in energy storage technology, finding broad applications in portable electronic devices and electric vehicles. In this project you will learn how these batteries are made, how they function and how X-rays generated at Diamond Light Source can be used to investigate changes taking place during their operation at the nanometre level.

Shining a Light on Corrosion

The student will plan and carry out a lab experiment to investigate factors affecting the corrosion of iron. The sample will then be analysed using a variety of techniques including using a nanoprobe X-ray beamline to examine the phases formed as the iron samples are corroded.

Software and control systems

To keep an electron beam circulating around the Diamond synchrotron requires a huge amount of electrical and mechanical equipment. To keep a beam circulating reliably for six days a week requires this equipment to react to any disturbances from both the beam and themselves. Diamond employs computerised control systems to perform this task and due to the large size of the machine a distributed control system (EPICS) is used, where many small computers controlling their local area are connected into a large network of shared information.

This project will deploy a small pre-built EPICS control network on a miniature version of Diamond (Diamond "Lite" Source) and design an operator interface screen with real-time updates from the sensors and controls of the model. This will give the student a taste of the actual day-to-day work of an engineer working at Diamond Light Source. The project will use Linux single-board computers (Raspberry Pi derivatives) with as much or little programming as desired, hence previous experience of programming and Linux is advantageous but not essential.

Software Development

In this project, students will work to solve problems following software development practices albeit on a smaller scale. From requirements gathering through to deployment, working as a team using standard tools.

Solving crystal structures

Solving crystal structures of common household chemicals - Crystallography is one the key methods Diamond uses to identify the atomic structure of substances. By solving the atomic structure we can learn lots more about the properties and functionality of different parts of a molecule. In this project you will use standard crystallography techniques to find, mount, and analyse crystals to discover the atomic structure of common household chemicals, ultimately producing posters describing the molecules and their potential effects in the body and in our environment.

Vacuum Project

An electron beam travelling through air will quickly lose electrons as they collide with air molecules and lose energy or get scattered. To keep the electron beam circulating in the storage ring, the tube they travel in must be kept at a very high vacuum. Gas emitted from solids within the vacuum systems of Diamond can cause the accelerators to fail. Understanding the vacuum properties of materials used on the accelerators is of great importance to the design and running of Diamond.

As an example, the student will use a 3D printer to print out a blank flange. The student will then obtain the basic vacuum properties of this flange. The student will use a leak detector to discover the leak rate of the flange, and then test the flange for its outgassing rate, looking at the species of gases that come from it under vacuum. This project will show the student how we come to understand some of the basic vacuum properties of materials we use at Diamond.

Video Creation Project

The use of video is very important in engaging with the public, it can get people’s attention and get across a large amount of information quickly and in an entertaining way. 

Students on this project would storyboard, create and edit a video promoting this year’s work experience program to future applicants. A possible extension to this project would be to integrate the video Diamond’s web and social media platforms.

No previous media experience is needed, but a desire to create and commuinicate ideas would be really helpful.

Virtual to Reality Design Engineering

Engineering Design is at the heart of the ground-breaking bespoke world leading Synchrotron and Beamline Mechanical system designs at Diamond Light Source.

This Project will allow the student to follow the complete design process life cycle, using all of Diamonds Virtual Engineering software packages, taking their work from Concept to a Final Approved Design. 

Skills and experience will be gained, guided, and developed using PTC’s Creo 3D CAD software with built in Live Simulation FEA.

3D printed parts will be manufactured in house at Diamond and they will form part of the student’s assembly build, providing hands on reality engineering.

CAD parts, assemblies and manufacture ready drawings will be produced that can be exported and kept as proof of the students personal development.

Time will look to be allocated in post Engineering departments such as the Optics Lab, Inspection department, Machining lab and Survey Group to further enhance the overall Engineering experience.

X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy Data Analysis

X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful experimental method that is used in various scientific fields including chemistry, materials science, biology, environmental science, art conservation and archaeology. XAS spectrum consists of two different regions: X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) and Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS). Different parts of the XAS spectrum contain different information about atoms of interest. XANES region contains information about valence state of the absorbing atom and the local symmetry of its unoccupied orbitals. EXAFS region provides information about local structure around selected atoms.
Students will visit B18 XAS beamline, where they can see the equipment used for collecting XAS spectra. They will then learn how to extract information about coordination geometry and oxidation state of selected atoms from the XAS data using various software packages.

  Start your Application Applications are now CLOSED for 2022. If you have any questions, please email

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