Materials Characterization


The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) is a core research facility within ND Energy, providing world-class equipment and instrumentation to support scientific advancements of new or improved sustainable energy technologies and systems, as well as the characterization and synthesis of any new materials. Characterization capabilities exist across a wide range of materials analysis, including surface, crystallographic, photovoltaic, electrochemical, trace gas molecule detection, rheometry, dynamic mechanical testing, and tribology. 

Researchers from Notre Dame, other academic institutions, and industry are welcome to use the facility. The MCF provides external partners with customized analytical solutions that run the gamut of customer-specified analytical work to sponsored R&D projects, involving coordinated use of analytical services across campus, as well as experienced faculty with expertise in materials areas important to the issues being investigated. 

The MCF delivers state-of-the-art analytical services, expertise, and instrumentation with unique capabilities to resolve some of the most relevant scientific problems facing researchers today. 

The MCF is located at 146-147 Stepan Chemistry Hall. To schedule a tour and to discuss your research needs, contact Dr. Ian Lightcap at 574-631-1493 or You can also stay connected on Linked-In at:

Utilization Grants

The MCF offers utilization grants for energy-related research requiring use of one or more of the MCF instruments. The intent is to provide equipment access for unfunded seed research to assist faculty in developing competitive external proposals. Individuals from colleges and other organizations outside of Notre Dame with limited access to advanced characterization instrumentation are eligible to apply. This is an open call for submissions. Proposals will be accepted until funding is no longer available. 

Proposal Instructions

Interested applicants should use the proposal template at the link below. Proposals should include a summary of the proposed research or educational activity, including a brief project overview, description of the project goals, field of context for the goals, the expected outcomes of the study/activity, and a statement indicating that the proposed project is not currently being funded by external sources. Proposals should also include a brief description of the desired MCF instrument(s) for use, the estimated hours of use for each instrument, anticipated dates of use, description of the sample(s) to be characterized, and the type of data/information expected to be acquired. Proposals will be reviewed upon receipt, and researchers will be notified of their award status approximately two weeks from submission.

Submit proposals to: Dr. Ian Lightcap, Research and Facilities Program Director,

Download Proposal Template

Award Policy

Awards will be distributed in increments of up to $1,000 with the potential to re-apply up to 2 times per 12-month period for a total award not to exceed $3,000 per year, per PI. Renewals will be granted based on PI’s continued need for funding and adequate research progress with demonstrated results. Awards will be placed in a designated ND Energy account and made available to the PI and his/her designee within the iLab system for use in the MCF only. Funds must be used within the designated 12-month period. Any remaining funds will be returned to ND Energy.

PIs receiving Utilization Grants are strongly encouraged to formally acknowledge use of the MCF in journal articles, presentations, and applications for external funding and to notify Dr. Lightcap of the acknowledgement. The MCF encourages all users to acknowledge use of the MCF as appropriate and suggests the following standard acknowledgement statement:  

“We thank the ND Energy Materials Characterization Facility for use of the [insert instrument(s) here].”