Industrial Users

The CharFac has a three-decade history of working with industry in a variety of contexts. The most common is straight contract work where one of our analysts uses a piece of instrumentation to provide analyses of your samples. This is usually done via an email exchange and mailing CharFac the samples. If there are more open-ended problems and users seek our advice or wonder if several techniques may be needed to address compositional and/or structural questions (or simply are not familiar with our capabilities), an initial meeting (in-person/virtual) with two or more analysts may be needed. The necessary steps to begin working with the CharFac are detailed in the section below (beginning at STEP 1).

A second route to analytical results is to use our labs yourself following training, while a third route is to establish collaborations with staff scientists for purposes of intellectual gain and to generate publications communicating capabilities and expertise. You can also work with us via membership in our affiliated industrial consortium IPRIME, or via the university's Sponsored Project Administration (SPA), which includes the Methods Collaboration concept and other kinds of grant routes.  

Billing Details

Our billing is charged hourly and separates instrument and staff time. Staff time accounts for all phases of the work, including meetings/mail, sample preparation (if any), data acquisition and analysis, discussion, and writing a full report if requested. Our cumulative charges are set to be consistent with the commercial analytical services marketplace, as required by University and federal policies. IPRIME members receive a ⅓ discount on the instrument time.

How do industrial users start work with the Characterization Facility?

STEP 1: Assessing needs

To determine the feasibility and scope of the work, please contact the instrument specialist directly. Our scientist will also provide you specific sample requirements (if any), an estimated quote (often for preliminary work to determine methodology before estimating per-sample for a larger body of work), and a timeline for the work. You can find the contact information on the instrument page or on Scientific Staff directory. For administrative documentation questions or clarifications, please contact CharFac Administration (

STEP 2: Filling Forms

You will also need to complete the Non-UMN User Registration Form and the Non-UMN Billing form. The billing form requires details of Purchase Order or e-invoicing info and describes payment options via university check or credit card (most major accepted). Completed documents should be mailed to CharFac Administration (

Additionally, Non-UMN users are required to complete the sample test agreement (one-page form for minimal work) or a full contract agreement (larger scope of a project) before work can begin. The contract includes the UMN OGC-Service Agreement (SA) and has an optional Confidentiality Addendum (CA). If you plan to use the labs yourself, then the Lab Use Agreement (LUA) will be need to be completed. This information is provided by the CharFac Administration (

STEP 3: Follow-up

Once the above documents are in place, all further communication regarding sample submission, analytical work, or training would take place with the corresponding scientific staff member(s).