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Information for Prospective Users

Welcome to the Characterization Facility (CharFac).†If you are interested in becoming a user of the CharFac, please review our Eligibility and Expectations . Industrial clients should also look over Use of the CharFac by Industry for a description of the services we provide. If you have familiarized yourself with these documents and would like to start your use of the facility, there are three areas to address: user registration, billing information, and training. If you wish to receive after-hours access, those instructions are also listed below.

User Registration

University of Minnesota users: If you are affiliated with the University of Minnesota (e.g. as a student, post-doc, faculty member, etc.), complete the U of M User Registration Form. Write legibly so others can read it; print if necessary. Please provide all of the requested information or your registration may be delayed. This includes reading and accepting the user agreement and safety training requirements.

Non-University of Minnesota users: If you are a member of another academic institution, or an industrial client, complete the Non-UMN User Registration Form. Write legibly so others can read it; print if necessary. Please provide all of the requested information or your registration may be delayed. This includes reading and accepting the user agreement and safety training requirements.

Additionally, Non-UMN users are required to complete the sample test agreement (one page form) or a contract agreement before work can begin. This information is provided by CharFac client relations, , ph: 612-625-0776.

The UMN OGC-Service Agreement (SA), Confidentiality Addendum (CA), and Lab Use Agreement (LUA) signify the intent for a longer-term relationship between the CharFac center and the user. Each Sample Test Agreement Form allows for one instrument testing or analysis; multiple sample tests can be conducted during a twelve-month period. Limitations and conditions of the one-page Sample Test Service Agreement are located here.

To complete the UMN OGC Service Agreement, Confidentiality Addendum to the Services Agreement, or the Lab Use Agreement, please contact .

To determine project a quote including project timelines, requirements, and training needs, please contact the instrument specialist directly. A brief description of your sample material will be helpful.

Billing Information

University of Minnesota users: Your current billing information is required before your account can be activated.† For U of M users, please provide us with your EFS account by completing the Billing Information Form. There are three pages in this form corresponding to sponsored, non-sponsored, and cost share EFS accounts. Complete only the page corresponding to your account type. Your departmentís accounting person must sign the form (not your PI). Also note that the expiration date is a required field.

Non-University of Minnesota users Use of the CharFac generally requires a purchase order.† Complete the Non-UMN billing form and return it to Corinne Komor. Please contact with any questions.


Instrument Training: The use of any of our instruments requires training by a staff member. Previous training on a similar instrument is not necessarily adequate. Please review our General Policies before you attend training.

On page 3 of the user registration form, indicate which instrument(s) you intend to use. The specialists for these instruments will contact you regarding their training schedules. If you are unsure of which instrument(s) you require, or have questions regarding our instrumentsí capabilities, please contact one of our scientists in the area that you are interested in. The staff page has contact information for the CharFac staff and specialists. The SEM Training Policy and TEM Training Policy are useful documents for determining which electron microscope best meets your needs, and should be reviewed by anyone seeking training with one of our electron microscopes.

If you have already registed and are now seeking training on an additional instrument, simply email with your request.

Safety Training: In order to comply with Minnesota state law, all researchers must complete lab safety training before using any instruments. Your user registration form contains detailed instructions on page 2 regarding safety training requirements. Completion of these requirements and your signature on the form are required. If you will be using x-ray equipment, be sure to note the additional safety requirements also listed on the bottom of page 2.

After-hours access (optional)

CharFac is open Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:30pm.† If you plan to use the facility outside these hours, on weekends, or during University holidays, follow the instructions below to obtain after-hours access.

Users with a UCard:

    You must receive approval from the CharFac specialist responsible for any instrument to use it independently. This is a mandatory component.

    Follow the instructions on the after-hours access request form. Completed forms can be returned to the CharFac front desk or emailed to .

Users without a UCard (e.g., industrial users):

  • If you will be using our facilities for a brief time (i.e., less than three days), ask the specialist associated with the instrument you will be using to provide you with a temporary access card.
  • If you will be using the CharFac after-hours for an extended period of time:
    • Recieve approval to use the instrument independently from the CharFac specialist responsible for that instrument.
    • Visit the main office in room 12 of the Shepherd Labs to recieve a temporary UCard. Please be prepared to show two forms of ID, one of which must be government issued; the other must be associated with you employer (such as a company security badge).
    • It is the user's responsibility to notify the Characterization Facility of the last effective date for after-hours access.


Questions and clarifications

Please email about administrative and billing issues (e.g., user documentation, purchase orders, invoices), or regarding policy issues and collaboration opportunities.