Summer Internship Programme 2020

Please note: In light of the current COVID-19 situation, regrettably, we have taken the very difficult decision to cancel our programme for this summer. Please check in early 2021 for the summer 2021 programme.

Oxford Particle Physics will run a Summer Internship Programme for undergraduate physics students. We anticipate taking about 7 students. Priority will be given to students in their second year and above.

Students will work with a supervisor in the department, usually a postdoctoral researcher or lecturer, on a self-contained project. Students are encouraged to take part in department life, joining researchers for coffee, discussions and seminars.

The projects run for typically 8 weeks during the Oxford summer vacation. Students will be paid as employees of the University, receiving a gross salary of approximately £300 per week (subject to tax and National Insurance deductions). 75% of the salary due for the entire project will be advanced during the first week, and the rest will be paid after completion of the project. The project is full-time but hours can be discussed with your supervisor.


Unfortunately, due to UK visa regulations, all candidates must have existing right to work in the UK.

How to apply

You should email a one-page-only application, in pdf format, to Sue Geddes ( by Sunday of 1st week, 26 April 2020. Students should ask for a short academic reference letter to be emailed by the same date. Offers will be made in mid May 2020.

On your 1-page application you should tell us why you are interested in the programme and which project(s) most interest you. Also include your contact details, your year and course, and contact details (including email) of your academic referee. Please also mention any computer programming experience and any previous research experience that you have had.

You are welcome to informally contact the supervisor(s) to find out more details about the projects that interest you. For any administrative issues, contact
Sue Geddes (

UNIQ+ scheme

We anticipate taking two interns through the UNIQ+ scheme, which has a separate application process (see for details) and an earlier application deadline of 24th February 2020.


Detector performance studies and liquid scintillator development for SNO+

Supervisor: Professor Steven Biller (
Duration: 8 weeks

The SNO+ experiment builds on the highly successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, which found the first unambiguous proof of neutrino flavour transformation. In this new project, the central volume will be replaced with liquid scintillator to provide unique sensitivity to a wide range of fundamental physics, including a search for neutrinoless double-beta decay. The experiment is currently in transition from water to scintillator fill, which will be completed by this summer. This project will therefore involve working with data and simulations to help assess the detector performance in this new mode with regard to event reconstruction and background levels. There will also be an opportunity to contribute to some prototype work on new liquid scintillator technologies.

Hunting matter-antimatter asymmetry in Higgs boson decays

Supervisor: Professor Chris Hays (
Duration: 8 weeks

The standard model of cosmology requires at least one unknown source of asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the fundamental interactions, and the discovery of the Higgs boson opens up a new set of interactions to probe for such a source. This project will investigate the sensitivity of the LHC to a matter-antimatter asymmetry in Higgs-boson decays to tau leptons, b-quarks, and c-quarks. The potential sensitivity of a future e+e- collider will also be explored.

PaMIr+: Interferometry on fast targets

Supervisor: Professor Armin Reichold (
Duration: 8 week

PaMIr is short for Phase Modulation Interferometry. The PaMIr group is developing a novel method to interferometrically measure rapid displacements with high accuracy and time resolution as well as low latency. PaMIr+ will extend this scope towards absolute distance measurements, which have abundant applications in large-scale science experiments. Among the highlight scientific applications so far are the alignment of the crab cavities in the upgrade HL-LHC, control of undulators at LCLS-II, relative positioning of the primary and secondary mirrors of several next generation telescopes (GMT, EELT, KECK), as well as future measurements of deployable space antennae on satellites.

PaMIr is a plug-compatible extension of an absolute distance interferometry technology (FSI, Frequency Scanning Interferometry) previously developed by Oxford Physics. This FSI technology is now used in its commercial form (Absolute Multiline™) in many scientific projects in accelerator science, particle physics, astrophysics but also in many industrial settings. The high speed, continuous differential measurements from PaMIr can be used in dynamic control loops to measure rapidly time variable positions continuously over long periods. These are needed in many of the above science problems and in the control of robots and CNC production machines in industry.

The PaMIr project is funded through an innovation partnership grant, which has inputs from STFC and from our two industrial partners, VadaTech Plc and Etalon GmBH. The student will be a member of the PaMIr group, which currently has five permanent members at Oxford. Prof Armin Reichold is the group leader, Dr Peter Qui is a PDRA, Dr Jubin Mitra is the groups FPGA engineer, Mr Mark Jones and Mr Johan Fopma are two further electronics engineers working part time on PaMIr. We have enjoyed input from four summer students and an MPhys student. Seven further part time team members are working on the project in our partner organisations.

This summer student opportunity offers a wide range of possible engagements with the PaMIr project. The range of activities suitable for a summer student are:
1. Measurement of fast moving targets with PaMIr interferometers

  • Testing multiple modulation and demodulation techniques
  • Experimentally verify some of the demodulation algorithms in their real time form in an FPGA in collaboration with out FPGA engineer Jubin Mitra.
  • Develop PaMIr offline analysis algorithms in collaboration with our post-doc, Peter Qiu.

2. Comparison of PaMIr measurements to those made by our own and a commercial reference interferometer.

  • Test PaMIr at critical distances
  • Measure performance as a function of laser power

3. Evaluate new frequency stabilised lasers for PaMIr

  • Stabilise our own fibre lasers to gas absorption cells
  • Test a new commercial fibre laser in PaMIr algorithms and fully characterise it.

4. Analysis of Absorption spectra of gas-cells using frequency comb measurements which can contain.

  • Fitting the beat signals of the scanning lasers with the comb to obtain a highly precise frequency axis.
  • Fitting the positions and widths of the peaks in the absorption spectra with Voigt functions instead of the simpler Gaussian functions used so far.
  • Potentially performing the fits from 2. using a total chi-squared method in which errors in both axes can be considered.

The CERN Linear Electron Accelerator for R&D

Supervisor: Professor Philip Burrows (
Duration: 8 weeks

The CERN Linear Electron Accelerator for R&D – has been commissioned and experiments are taking place on the beamline. The intern will have the opportunity to work on both hardware and simulation studies for operating and upgrading the 220 MeV electron beamline. There are also opportunities for working on novel beam position monitors and high-gradient radio-frequency accelerating cavities.

Phenomenology of neutrino pion production

Supervisor: Dr Xianguo Lu (
Duration: 8 weeks

Accelerator neutrino experiments are searching for the signature of leptonic CP violation which is beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. Neutrino interaction plays an important role in this discovery, and the pion production is one of the critical interaction mechanisms in current and future experiments. Precise theoretical description of these processes is of high demand by the progressing experimental sensitivity. In this project, the student will explore the state-of-the-art event generators of neutrino interactions and study the pion production. This project requires good programming skills in C/C++ and proficiency on Linux operating system.

Simulation and reconstruction of new Bc decays

Supervisor: Professor Malcolm John (
Duration: 8 weeks

Because of their comparatively long lifetimes, the properties of B mesons could be modified from a Standard Model (SM) expectation by the slow-acting, feeble effect of unknown particles. In the last decade, evidence of a deviation from the SM has been reported in some b-to-c quark transitions. An unturned stone in the study of b-to-c transitions is the annihilation decay of Bc mesons, which are a bound state of a b-quark and a c-antiquark. The Oxford LHCb group published the first observation of a Bc decay that is dominated by the annihilation topology in 2015 and have a continued interest in developing Bc decays at LHCb.

The summer project will be to use provided code to generate and simulate a large number of novel Bc modes. The student will write simple python tools to manage the simulation jobs on the Oxford particle physics cluster and analyse the result. The output of the simulation will be sets of ‘ntuples’ from which histograms of decay properties (like reconstructed mass and lifetime) will be made. The goal of the project will be to calculate a good estimate of the reconstruction efficiency of these new decays and perhaps assist in defining an online selection for use by LHCb during Run3 (2021-2024).

The Communication of Fixed Field Accelerators

Supervisor: Dr Suzie Sheey (
Duration: 8 weeks

The aim of this project is to do a physics and historical review of a type of particle accelerator known as a Fixed Field Alternating Gradient accelerator. This type of accelerator was first invented in the 1950’s and 60’s and has recently undergone a renaissance in Japan, UK and USA with a number of new inventions and accelerators being built around the world. So far, educational resources and a summary page is limited to a Wikipedia article which is not updated very often. This project will involve researching the history and concepts involved in this type of particle accelerator, and working to create the content for a website ( ) which summarises the research and creates a portal for educational resources for different audiences including accelerator experts through to the general public. The project would be well-suited to a student interested in the history of science or science communication as well as physics, and someone who has an interest or experience in web design. There will be many opportunities for original contributions to the project based on the student’s interests.