University of Minnesota users

Most users seek training for independent use of labs. The steps to begin that process are detailed in the section below (beginning at STEP 1).

Initial interactions require discussing the general appropriateness of our instrumentation and methods to your research problem, as well as assessing any previous experience with similar instrumentation, usually via preliminary email to the pertinent staff scientist(s).

Rate Information

CharFac charges UMN researchers hourly fees to use the instrumentation (partially defraying operations costs, i.e., not the purchase of equipment), plus additional fees to tap staff expertise. UMN researchers utilize CharFac at significantly below operational costs because CharFac receives operations funding from multiple UMN colleges. To accomplish this feat we have digital systems in place to track and compile usage and charges. These systems are introduced in training and should not be abused by users (to avoid loss of user privileges). Our UMN rate sheet details various pricing scenarios.

How do UMN users start to work with the Characterization Facility

STEP 1: Fill out forms

Complete UMN User Registration Form. Please provide all of the requested information—including reading and accepting the user agreement and safety training requirements. If an instrument training is being sought please submit the document to the CharFac main desk (

If you are sure of which instrument(s) you require, please indicate on the Instruments page of the Registration form and the instrument specialist will contact you regarding training schedules. If you do not have enough information on the capabilities and suitability of each instrument for a particular research problem, please contact instrument specialists in the area that you are interested in. You can find the contact information on the instrument page or on our Scientific Staff directory.

Provide EFS account(s) in the Billing Information Form and have your department’s accountant sign the form (not your Principal Investigator). Note that the expiration date is a required field.

Email the forms as a pdf to CharFac’s main administrative desk ( or put in the drop box located outside 15 Shepherd Labs. You will receive an e-mail regarding the next step. To check the status, contact main administrative desk ( 

STEP 2: Technical considerations

The registration email from will cc the CharFac staff scientist(s)/trainer(s) who specialize in the technique(s) requested. The prospective user will be notified if intermediate discussion is needed. Once proceeding with training has been cleared, the trainee’s name will be added to a list for scheduling in the coming days. These lists are managed to foster staff efficiency and minimize cost to users, often as training groups; thus liberal trainee calendars are essential for timely training.  To check the status of this list, please contact the pertinent cc’d trainer(s). 

Alternatively, if analytical services/collaboration is determined to be the better route, the email thread will proceed in this direction and all further discussion will be with the staff scientist.

STEP 3: Additional Training (if necessary)

Scientists in your area(s) of interest reach out with further details regarding this process.

In order to comply with Minnesota state law, all researchers must complete lab safety training before using any instruments. Your user registration form contains detailed instructions on page 2 regarding safety training requirements. Completion of these requirements and your signature on the form are required. 

Electron microscopes users — the SEM Training Policy/ primer and TEM Training Policy/ primer are useful for determining which electron microscope best meets your needs and should be reviewed by anyone seeking training with one of our electron microscopes.

If you will be using X-ray equipment, be sure to note the additional safety requirements also listed on the bottom of page 2.

If you have already registered and are now seeking training on an additional instrument, simply email the CharFac main office ( with your request.