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Research Fellow

Department of Physics

Location:  Guildford
Salary:  £31,866 to £36,914 per annum
Fixed Term
Post Type:  Full Time
Advert Placed:  Monday 22 February 2021
Closing Date:  Monday 22 March 2021
Interview Date:  Friday 09 April 2021
Reference:  054120

To understand the origin of the chemical elements is one of the biggest challenges in science. Nuclear physics research has provided a broad picture of element creation, but many holes in that picture remain. We still do not know the main astrophysical site for nucleosynthesis of heavy elements. Possible scenarios include supernova explosions and merging neutron stars. The latter events are also sources of gravitational waves that may provide useful information about element creation. Many questions about element creation will be addressed on the international stage by a new generation of nuclear research facilities such as FRIB, FAIR, HIE-ISOLDE and RIBF-RIKEN. In these facilities, the properties of atomic nuclei of great relevance for galactic chemical evolution will be probed with nuclear reactions in a vacuum. In reality, nucleosynthesis in the universe takes place in dense plasma environments. Therefore, these accelerator experiments cannot probe important effects on element creation caused by stellar plasma -a dense soup of electrons and photons. Plasma-based experiments like those planned at NIF ( as well as dedicated research on photo-nuclear reactions induced by super-intense laser pulses at ELI ( are about to open a new avenue for a better understanding of nuclear quantum dynamics. However, nuclear reactions affected by external environments remain poorly understood theoretically, limiting the ability for the planned "plasma-based" and "laser-based" experiments to deliver on their science goals.

Applications are invited for a Research Fellow to investigate the possibility of laser-assisted element creation in low-energy fusion reactions of atomic nuclei, exploiting the nuclear excitation and decay mechanisms mediated by coupling to atomic shells. In collaboration with other members of the team, a novel quantum dynamical model based on the theory of open quantum systems will be developed and implemented in a computer code. This will provide opportunities to investigate quantum tunneling in open dynamical systems, which is of great interest across disciplines.

Applicants should have, or soon expected, a PhD degree in theoretical physics, chemistry or related subject, with a research focus on quantum dynamics. The research fellow will be expected to bring expertise in both quantum dynamics induced by laser fields as well as in high-performance computing, and to contribute original ideas to the development of the model and its efficient implementation. The successful applicant will have scientific curiosity and strong skills in team-working and communicating scientific results.

This position is for 2 years, starting 1 September 2021. Informal enquiries regarding the post may be directed to Dr. Alexis Diaz-Torres (


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Please note, it is University Policy to offer a starting salary equivalent to Level 3.6 (£31,866) to successful applicants who have been awarded, but are yet to receive, their PhD certificate.  Once the original PhD certificate has been submitted to the local HR Department, the salary will be increased to Level 4.1 (£32,817).

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