Benji Moore: placement year to PhD, with a publication along the way!
30 Apr 2024
- Rosie de Laune



During his industrial placement at ISIS, Benji Moore worked on a project that saw him publish a paper as its first author. He is now studying for a PhD and has returned to ISIS to do experiments to support his thesis.


“My placement year was my first introduction to research, and ISIS was such a nice place to do it," says Benji. “The year was instrumental in establishing my research interests. I got to know not only the instruments and data analysis techniques, but also beamline scientists across ISIS."

During the academic year 2021/22, Benji Moore did an industrial placement at ISIS, jointly supervised by Pascal Manuel and Robin Perry. He used a new technique to synthesise single crystals of Ba2MnS3, using X-ray diffraction in the Materials Characterisation Lab to check the quality of the multiple synthesis attempts. He then used neutron diffraction on SXD​to determine the magnetic structure of the material.​

His work, which was published as a first-author paper in CrystEngComm, details how this new synthesis technique, which uses a modified optical floating zone set-up, can be used to grow a ternary sulphide crystal from an open melt. This method, developed by Robin, opens opportunities for the study of other ternary transition metal sulphides, which are attractive candidates for semiconducting and thermoelectric materials.

After completing his placement year, Benji returned to university; “When returning to Warwick, I felt much more confident engaging my supervisor in higher-level conversations." Since completing his degree, he has started a PhD in Martin Schröder's group at the University of Manchester, who study porous materials for the storage of toxic gases using techniques including neutron scattering. This means he has returned to ISIS as a user, building on the experience gained during his placement.

“Learning all the fundamentals and foundations [of neutron science] set me up well for my PhD year and my return to university. It enabled me to perform better than my colleagues, which was good for my grades!" The scholarship that Benji is on is one of only two awarded that year and is therefore very competitive. “I don't think I would have been considered if I did not have the experience from my year in industry," he adds.

It wasn't only his research skills that he developed during his placement, as speaking at group meetings developed his presentation skills. He is also still in contact with other placement students, one of whom is also using neutrons for their research, but in another area of science. Who knows? There may be a future collaboration waiting to happen…! 

The full paper can be found at DOI: 10.1039/d3ce00977g

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)