Dan Faircloth
13 May 2019
- Sofia Lambert



Dan Faircloth has been working in ISIS for over 17 years and hasn’t looked back since, working to develop ISIS’s international reputation for ion source development.




Before joining ISIS, Dan went to the University of Manchester where he did an undergraduate degree in electrical and electric engineering. He then did a masters in electrical power engineering and later received a PhD from the university. Soon after completing this, he went to the National Grid Laboratory where he managed multiple research projects as a high voltage electrical engineer.

Dan is the ISIS Low Energy Beams Group Leader and currently leads two teams that, in total, consist of eight people: the electrical section and the Ion Source section. Dan is also lucky enough to have a RAL ​International Fellow who had previously helped to design a never-ending ion source.

“I love the complexity of the systems we build, and I love pushing technology to the limit," says Dan; “the hardest part of my job would definitely be the plasma physics. I find it very challenging as it wasn't a subject I took as a degree, however I am lucky to have the help of my colleagues."

He and his group are currently working on three projects for ISIS. Their first project is to make a maintenance free ion source, which would mean that the ion sources would not need so much staff time and maintenance. This aims to “push a new type of technology, which could make the ion sources effectively never-ending." Dan is also working on two space thruster projects in which he is collaborating with a Spanish technology company called AVS. Dan and his group are providing the ion source knowledge to the collaboration whilst AVS specialize in delivering technology.

The first is a collaboration with AVS and the University of Surrey called 'AquaJet': a proof of concept thruster with a long lifetime. Dan developed a model of the thruster using cross sections and large-scale stimulations that can take up to three months to solve. The second project is 'Impulse', which is more of a conventional gridded ion thruster. In this project, which is a collaboration with the University of Southampton and AVS, Dan's group are looking at the erosion rate of the thruster.

He has also been part of other industrial collaborations: working with Rapiscan as a high voltage consultant to look at high-speed airport scanners in baggage conveyers and consulting for ASML, a company that makes the machines that make microchips. Dan also hosted an industrial research project with Siemens to build a novel proof of concept accelerator to manufacture isotopes for medical imaging.

Dan received an individual merit promotion in 2017 and says that an IM scientist is; “a senior member of staff who is given the freedom to pursue strategically important research for STFC and can be trusted to engage in the international community." This is evident as he is involved with professional engagement with the IET, IMechE and IoP, and has created a professional network for particle accelerator engineering. He is the chair of this network and is currently running his fifth year very successfully.  

Dan has many hobbies, including playing percussion in a samba band. He is also into filmmaking and some of his videos can be found in the website: faircloth.info. Dan has learnt a lot throughout his time in ISIS, but the advice he would give to his younger self is to “buy a fuel efficient reduced car. I used to buy £200 cars, but then 10 years later I realised the amount of money I spent on the fuel… That, or buy bitcoin!"

What's next for Dan? “I want to complete the maintenance free ion source and hopefully we will be looking at alternative ways of making negative ions." He explains; “We are looking at using a bright blue laser to see if it makes more negative ions. I also want to build more collaborations with other technologies similar to ion sources"

60-second sketch

Every member of staff that is profiled is asked to answer simple questions that we think will help you to get to know them better.

  1. Favorite scientist – who would you put on the £50 note? Definitely James Maxwell
  2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? One meal… that's difficult, but I'd have to say hummus and crackers.
  3. Dog or cat? Neither, as I think owning pets is a bit cruel.
  4. Winter or summer? Summer
  5. Sunrise or sunset? Sunset
  6. Coffee or tea? Coffee
  7. Staycation or vacation? Both are good but I think vacation.
  8. If you had a teleportation machine and could go anywhere in the world where would you go? The moon
  9. Can you describe yourself in three words? excitable, curious and tenacious
  10. What is your most prized possession and something you just can't live without? my phone
  11. What type of style of music do you like? I like all interesting music and music that is rhythmically challenging
  12. If you had a time machine when would you go? The “first" second of the universe.
  13. What did you want to be when you were older? I know it sounds weird but I've always wanted to be an electrical engineer.
  14. Who would you want to be stranded on a desert island with? My partner!
  15. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Many people often used to say that I looked like Harry Hill – so I guess I'd have to say him! 
Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)