Miriam Colling

“After finishing my Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering at Lancaster University, I started my role as a graduate mechanical engineer at the Science and Technology Facilities Council at Daresbury Laboratory. I have completed a number of interesting projects in the past year, however the one that I am working on now is very exciting: designing a free electron laser (FEL) machine for industrial applications.”

The project

"A FEL accelerates electrons and steers them into an undulator or 'wiggler'. The undulator causes the electrons to oscillate and release high energy photons, which are absorbed by electrons downstream, and in turn emit higher energy photons. This output radiation is high-power, high-quality and tuneable over a wide range of wavelengths. It therefore has use in many research applications such as materials science, medical applications, and is also being introduced commercially in the semiconductor industry. At the moment my project involves the design, build and test of a prototype undulator. Since this is an essential part of the machine, it is important to ensure it works!"

The inspiration

“My interest in science started when I was young and had a fascination with space and the planets. I have also always been creative and liked designing. Engineering, therefore, seemed the perfect way to combine these interests. I took a degree in nuclear engineering, during which I completed a year in industry at CERN. The work I do now is providing me with a better understanding of the different components involved in particle accelerators and how they are built. In the future, I hope to combine my knowledge of the design and build of accelerators with the nuclear physics I learnt at university to aid the research and design of medical accelerators, particularly proton therapy.”