Materials Characterization

The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) provides instrumentation and expertise for solid and liquid materials characterization by surface and thermal analysis and spectroscopic and spectrometric analytical methods; in-situ synthetic studies of complex actinide materials including transuranium elements, and developing new functional materials engineered at the nanoscale to effectively capture solar radiation, interfaced with materials that can use that energy to drive useful chemical reactions. Major capabilities are:

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    General Material Characterization. Modern instrumentation and expertise for solid, liquid, and gas characterization by spectroscopic, thermal, X-ray, BET, and spectrometric analytical methods. (Instruments are located in 132 Nieuwland Science Hall.)
  • Photovoltaic and Electrocatalyst Characterization. Two catalyst and photovoltaic testing stations include solar simulators, automated gas sampling loops for in-line GC evolved gas detection, and a potentiostat with electrochemical impedance and rotating disc electrode capabilities. (Instruments are located in 132 Nieuwland Science Hall.)
  • Crystallographic Characterization. Powder and single crystal X-ray diffractometers are available for a wide range of structural characterization. (Instruments are located in 303 Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering.)

The MCF is an open-access facility and is available to internal and external users, both academic and industrial. For more information and to schedule use of the equipment, contact Dr. Ian Lightcap at 574-631-1493 or

Visit the MCF website for a list of instruments and user rates. 

Instrumentation Grants

The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) offers instrumentation grants for energy-related research that requires use of one or more of its facility 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

Proposals must include a summary of the proposed reseach or educational activity (1 page) and include a project overview (a brief description of the project goals), background (a brief field of context for those goals), outcomes (the expected outcomes of the study or activity), and a statement indicating that the proposed research is not currently being funded by an external grant. 

Proposals also must include a brief description of the desired instrument use (1 page), including a list of 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 should be submitted to Dr. Ian Lightcap, Research and Facilities Program Director. Proposals will be reviewed upon receipt, and researchers will be notified of their award status approximately two weeks after submission.

Download Proposal Template