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PDRA, Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry

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The Rosalind Franklin Institute (the Franklin) is a new national Research Centre, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology. The Biological Mass Spectrometry theme focuses on the development of new instrumentation for mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) allowing the visualisation of molecular distributions at subcellular level and the de-novo structure elucidation of chemical species detected by MSI techniques. The ultimate goal of the Theme is to understand the working mechanism of molecular interaction networks in health and disease and define novel diagnostic and prognostic targets for next generation healthcare.

The project will focus on the development of multimodal laser desorption ion sources employing UV and infrared lasers in a broad wavelength range (193 nm-10.6µm) with ns-ps pulse widths. Besides using commercially available laser systems, construction of a Ho:ZBLAN fibre laser operating at 3µm and delivering 400 fs pulses is also planned. Building a modular optical setup is planned when the samples can be irradiated in both transmission and reflective mode. In addition, irradiation of laser desorption plume by UV lasers is also planned to achieve secondary gas-phase photoionization. Further means of secondary ionization are also planned to be implemented including glow discharge and photoionization by Xe excimer lamp. The planned ion source comprises also an XY linear moving stage with 10 nm step size and ±50 nm spatial accuracy.

The project will be initially hosted by the National Physical Laboratory before moving to the new Rosalind Franklin Institute facilities at Harwell. Fibre laser construction work will be performed at the Department of Physics at Imperial College (Prof. Roy Taylor’s group). The post reports to the Franklin’s Theme Leads for Biological Mass Spectrometry (Profs Josephine Bunch and Zoltan Takats), and will also work with MS leads of the Franklin Member Institutions.

This is essentially a post-doctoral research associate role, however we may be able to consider senior post-doctoral research associates, depending on their skills and experience. The duration of the post is 18 months' fixed-term contract.


You will:

• Embrace the primary project of the role, namely developing the optical systems and related components for the multimodal laser desorption ion source.

• Collaborate with the researchers at the Laser Physics group at Imperial College regarding the development of a novel, fs pulse width mid-infrared laser systems

• Collaborate with the MSI group at the National Physical Laboratory in the context of laser desorption ionization

• Work with software engineers in the Franklin and our industrial partner to develop a robustly engineered instrument control platform that allows the seamless integration of the LDI source into the main instrument control environment

• Work with MS experts and structural biologists from the Member Institutions and broader UK user community to understand the broader context of the application

• Develop the scientific scope of the project, formulate relevant research questions, conduct individual research, analysing detailed and complex qualitative and/or quantitative data from a variety of sources, and generate original ideas by building on existing concepts

• Publish research articles in leading academic journals.

• Present findings at national and international meetings/conferences.

• Take a formal or informal role (as required) in the supervision of research students, including recruitment, mentorship and career development.

• Raise research funds through grant applications, and manage own area of a larger research budget

• Participate in and support the public engagement and widening access activities of the Franklin

• Any other duties that come up in the normal running of the facility and that can be reasonably requested of the post-holder.

Selection criteria


• A post-graduate qualification, or equivalent experience, in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, or related subjects.

• Experience in optical systems and construction of lasers

• Experience in mechanical instrument design

• A demonstrated aptitude for programming, software engineering and user interface design

• Experience with developing routinely usable methods

• Experience with devising research questions and to develop strategies to address them

• Ability to work both independently and as part of a team

• Strong organisational and communication skills.

• Experience with project management and demonstrated ability to deliver agreed milestones in a timely manner, adapt to changing priorities

• Ability to discuss and coordinate experiments with a variety of colleagues from different disciplines


• Experience in mass spectrometry with emphasis on laser desorption ionization methods, photoionization and photofragmentation

• Experience in molecular imaging technologies

• Knowledge of computational chemistry and cheminformatics

• Experience with general analytical techniques such as chromatography, NMR or electrophoresis etc.

Closing date: 23rd January 2020, 9:00am

Area: Scientific

Location: Harwell/Teddington

Type of Post: Full Time

Salary: Competitive


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