Industrial personnel can work with the CharFac in one or more of the following manners:
CharFac staff members can measure a wide variety of often difficult samples and construct complex experiments based on advanced analytical know-how.
- Our scientists provide simple or advanced measurements with a variety of instruments to fit the specific needs of our clients. They also can provide an in-depth analysis of the results.
- We can provide raw data in a format specified by the client, raw data in the format output by our instrumentation software, or results presented graphically in PowerPoint or in other MS Office programs. When requested, a more detailed and advanced analysis of the data can be provided along with a basic-to-elaborate report, further explaining the technique and methodology from first principles if needed. These further needs for data analysis and reporting should be enunciated early on, so as to incorporate in the price estimate (for the expanded effort).
Training or assistance
A different route is to use CharFac labs yourself. After initial training by the staff, you only pay for the instrument time and perhaps occasional staff assistance. Depending on the technique(s) used, this can reduce the expense by roughly one-quarter to one-half.
- Basic Training: Training is available for those who wish to engage in significant and regular use of specific equipment.
- Assisted Measurement: Beyond Basic Training, additional assisted sessions are often needed even for basic measurements.
- Advanced Training: For those interested in instrumentation or techniques beyond basic methods, staff scientists provide advanced training in secondary or more complex techniques. This training is envisioned as mentorship for those interested in the long-term use of advanced measurements. (Short term use of advanced methods instead should be sought as a service from the staff.)
Many CharFac staff members are eager to establish collaborations for intellectual gain whether in proficiency with techniques, to develop new capabilities, and/or reflecting interests in specific materials or technologies (e.g., in medical device tribology, as one of many examples), and moreover to generate publications that communicate capabilities and expertise. This is especially true when unique instrumentation and/or expertise on our end is combined with unique synthesis or fabrication at a company, to yield novel measurements and science. Most commonly this collaboration is via IPRIME membership, but there are additional routes available to ALL companies, as follows:
- Standard proposal
- Any company can cut a grant (typically 1-3 years) to the University via proposal co-authorship with the CharFac scientific staff. Alternatively, a company rep and CharFac staff scientist can co-author a federal grant proposal geared specifically towards industrial problems; past examples include the SBIR and GOALI programs at NSF or NIH. In any case, these collaborations are conceived around the materials and technological interests of both parties from a non-proprietary perspective, the ultimate goal being the generation of publications. Such collaborations are established via a proposal submitted to the University’s Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) and include a monetary portion for indirect cost recovery (University overhead). But the expenses for work in the CharFac accrue at internal-to-UMN charge rates (which are hugely reduced compared to our industrial rates for proprietary work).
- Methods Collaboration proposal
- A company can alternatively fund a minimal-overhead (~10%) Methods Collaboration with the CharFac, again for the case of nonproprietary research, but focusing primarily on analytical methods development. These can be short- or long-term engagements, and expenses at the CharFac accrue at internal-to-UMN charge rates. Methods Collaborations benefit the CharFac by broadening the array of methodologies implemented in our labs and/or deepening our understanding of individual methods, while our partners receive state-of-the-art or even pioneering characterization results on model systems. (The interaction is akin to that of an IPRIME industrial fellowship but without hands-on use of the instrumentation by the company member.)
Any publications using the data obtained in the facility should acknowledge the Characterization Facility of the University of Minnesota. A suggested sentence is "Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC (Award Number DMR-2011401) and the NNCI (Award Number ECCS-2025124) programs.”
For basic measurements conducted by CharFac scientists, please acknowledge the staff member by name. Publications using advanced methodologies or data analysis carried out by staff scientist(s) at the Characterization Facility should include the respective staff scientist as a co-author and the parties responsible for the paper should involve them in the editing process. In these cases the CharFac scientist is answerable to the scientific community on the details of the analytical work. (These concepts are stated in most technical journal guidelines as well as the codes of conduct of professional societies.)