Material Characterization Facility Offering Personal Assistance, Workshops

The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) invites all those on and off campus who may benefit from their services to learn about what the facility has to offer. The MCF, which is a Notre Dame Research and ND Energy core facility, is home to 18 world-class instruments to support scientific advancements of new and improved sustainable energy technologies and systems, as well as the characterization and synthesis of new materials.

Ian Lightcap, Ph

“People who come to the MCF have a question and they come here to answer it,” said Ian Lightcap, the research and facilities program director who supports the facility in areas ranging from administration to repairing or supporting people using the equipment. “Often a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow will be either making or changing a material and they come to the MCF to test whether or not they have made what they intended.”

For example, Peter Kilpatrick, professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering, and his team are working on petroleum extractions – specifically petroporphyrin extractions, materials of great scientific interest and potential commercial value. Once it is believed that a petroporphyrin of sufficient purity has been extracted and isolated, it is brought over to the XPS or X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy within the facility, which is used to analyze the porphyrin composition and purity.

Lightcap dedicates a significant portion of time to ensure that users are aware of the instrumentation available and are comfortable using it. He said, “In my position, my main goal is for people to come in, understand how to use the instrument, and get accurate and useful data.”

Lightcap has also started a series of workshops devoted to discussing specific equipment within the MCF. The next workshop will take place Thursday, March 24, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will highlight the fundamentals of electrochemistry, rotating disc electrode, and electrochemical impedance.

The Materials Characterization Facility

“I am excited to share the MCF’s capabilities with both new and established facility uses, as not all of our users may know about our full capabilities or which instruments may be best for their research needs,” Lightcap said. “The workshops are meant to be open forums to talk about the equipment and how it can be used, so the next time the user comes in, they feel more comfortable utilizing a machine that they may previously not have.”

The deadline to sign-up for the next workshop is March 22, 2016 and space is limited. If you are interested in learning more about the capabilities of the MCF or about remaining workshops, please visit


Ian Lightcap / Research and Facilities Program Director

ND Energy / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.1493

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.

Originally published by Brandi Klingerman at on March 08, 2016.