Accelerator Operator - Physics and Astronomy (2 vacancies available)

University of Birmingham

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Position type:

Full time


£27,511 to £30,046

14 Jan 2022
03 Feb 2022

Full details:

Reference number: BIR-22000026

Position Details

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Physics and Astronomy

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £27,511 to £30,046. With potential progression once in post to £33,797 a year

Grade 6, Full time, Permanent

2 vacancies available

Closing Date: 3rd February 2022


Role Purpose

The MC40 Cyclotron is a particle accelerator which is intensively used for a wide variety of research and commercial activities, including manufacturing short-lived radioisotopes for use by hospitals. The National User Facility for high-flux neutron irradiation, ADNIF@Bham, is under construction and will serve a broad research base in addition to commercial work. Five technical support staff together with the Facility Technical Lead are responsible for maintaining and safely operating both accelerators, which is a complex infrastructure involving a range of mechanical, electrical and electronics systems, including high voltage, radio-frequency and high vacuum systems.

  • To be responsible for the safe and reliable operation of the MC40 Cyclotron and ADNIF accelerator, as directed by the Facility Technical Lead. This will involve working a regular shift pattern, which will include unsociable hours.
  • To be responsible for the maintenance and development of both accelerators and associated ancillary equipment; including diagnosing and rectifying faults promptly and effectively and ensuring minimum disruption to running time

Main Responsibilities

The MC40 cyclotron is based in the Medical Physics Building of the School of Physics & Astronomy and is involved on a commercial basis, in the manufacture of radioisotopes for medical, industrial purposes and nuclear physics research. The cyclotron’s replacement value would be in excess of £3M. Working in collaboration with City Hospital NHS Trust (CHT), the MC40 cyclotron is required to run during evenings, 5 days a week including Sundays, to ensure the distribution of medical isotopes to hospitals throughout the UK. The cyclotron is also run during normal working hours for a range of commercial and research applications. A second accelerator, forming the National User facility ADNIF — Accelerator Driven Neutron Irradiation Facility — is currently under construction and will also be housed in the Medical Physics Building. This £10M facility will be operational from early 2022 and serve a wide range of national users — both commercial and research.

The Postholder will be part of the accelerator operating team. During shift operations the Postholder will be responsible for:

Operating the MC40 cyclotron during radioisotope production shift work periods, trials and tests including:

  • Starting up the cyclotron and associated ancillary equipment and cooling systems
  • Preparing isotope production targetry, including high pressure gas systems for injection into the cyclotron and gas recirculation systems. The gas involved in the isotope production target costs £10k
  • Setting up the cyclotron dependent on the radioisotope being produced. Technical expertise and diligence will be vital in ensuring the accurate setting of the machine parameters and the correct machine conditions for stable target irradiation and radioisotope production. This will have a direct bearing on the quality control of the product.
  • Continually monitoring all parameters of the cyclotron during isotope production operations
  • Carrying out immediate fault diagnosis and rectification occurring during a shift. This is an imperative part of the shift operation having a direct impact on the quality and production of the product

Operating the ADNIF accelerator during shift work periods, trials and tests including:

  • Starting up the accelerator and associated ancillary equipment, vacuum and cooling systems
  • Setting up the accelerator for the dependent on user requirements. Technical expertise and diligence will be vital in ensuring the accurate setting of the machine parameters and the correct machine conditions for stable target irradiation in order to meet the users’ requirements.
  • Continually monitoring all parameters of the accelerator during operations
  • Carrying out immediate fault diagnosis and rectification during a shift. This is an imperative part of the shift operation having a direct reputational impact on the facility for delivering consistent user irradiations

Assisting with the maintenance and development of the accelerators and ancillary equipment, during non-shift operations, to minimise delays and downtime in operations, including:

  • using technical knowledge and expertise of mechanical, electrical, high vacuum technology, high voltage, pneumatic and electronic systems to diagnose and rectify faults occurring in cyclotron and/or ancillary equipment promptly.
  • maintaining equipment, planned or breakdown, as directed by the Technical Lead.
  • carrying out fault diagnosis and rectification in either planned maintenance or breakdown situations.

Assisting with constructing, developing and modifying of components associated with the accelerators, ancillary equipment and isotope targetry, including:

  • installation of new or repaired components, be they electrical/electronic or mechanical, in a maintenance/breakdown maintenance situation, or newly developed, manufactured or modified. Note: many items associated with cyclotrons/ancillary equipment/isotope targetry cannot be purchased and therefore have to be designed, manufactured and developed in-house.
  • with the operational testing of all components indicated above

Purchasing ready-use items from the School stores and obtaining orders to purchase from suppliers:

  • will involve identifying outside source for purchase of items
  • will involve discussions with Technical Lead and suppliers as to ordering from outside companies


Adhering to all local, School and University safety policies, including responsibility for Health & Safety and security issues during the operation of the accelerators and the use of other electrical test equipment.

Carrying out any other duties as directed by the Head of School or Director of Operations.


Person Specification

Due to the commercial nature of the business in producing radioisotopes which are then sold to the NHS, it is essential that a minimum of cyclotron downtime is achieved during shift operations. Technical staff responsible for cyclotron operation are required to show initiative and commitment in diagnosing and rectifying any faults occurring during shift operations in the minimal amount of time, unsupervised.

Skills and Experience


  • Four GCSE’s or equivalent
  • HNC/BTEC or equivalent in electrical engineering or a related area
  • Experience of working within a team environment
  • Good fault diagnosis skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Willingness to work with radiation and radioactivity — required to be a Classified Radiation Worker and to adhere to all safety controls which are in place


  • Thorough working knowledge of electrical/electronic engineering systems including radio-frequency oscillators and high voltage systems
  • Experience in working within a radiation environment
  • Thorough working knowledge of high vacuum technology
  • Thorough working knowledge of pneumatic and high-pressure gas systems
  • Familiarity with the operation of mechanical workshop equipment such as lathes, milling machines and drillers
  • Computer-aided design and fabrication experience

Decision Making

Without reference to others:

  • Responsibility for the safe and reliable operation of the accelerators during shift hours, this to include starting up, preparation (including high pressure gas systems for injection into the cyclotron and gas recirculation systems) and the preparation of isotope targets
  • Responsibility for fault diagnosis and fast rectification of the accelerators and ancillary equipment during shift hours
  • Responsibility for health and safety and security issues during shift hours operation and use of electrical test equipment

After consulting others:

  • Carrying out maintenance routines as directed. Assisting with the development of beam lines and sophisticated isotope production targets.
  • Internal/External Relationships
    • Liaise with colleagues and accelerator users, including students



For informal enquiries about this role, please contact Carl Wheldon -

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