User Policies

Using Facility Instruments

You must have a valid budget number and appropriate training on the instruments before using them without assistance.  Once you have been trained, you may not train co-workers.  Everyone must be trained by a Characterization Facility staff member. Furthermore, you must notify us by email of any changes to your account, i.e., new budget number, phone number, departure from the University, etc.

  • There is a 48-hour cancellation policy for instrument time. Sessions cancelled less than 48 hours in advance will be charged in full.
  • Instrument time is charged in 30-minute increments. Some instruments have a 1-hour or 2-hour minimum time slot. Billed instrument time begins at the earlier of the reservation start time or sign-in time through the later of the reservation end time or sign-out time. Thus the very first task of a session is sign-in, and the very last is sign-out.
  • Staff time is charged in 30-minute increments.
  • Users are expected to understand and estimate their costs based on hourly rates posted here, or reach out to CharFac staff to provide an estimate upon request. 
  • Users are not allowed to share accounts under any circumstances. Everyone using an instrument must have a user account and be signed in as themself. 
  • All users not scheduling and using the instrument within 2 weeks of training must schedule (and pay for) an additional assistance session.
  • All users that have a lapse of 3 months or more in their usage MUST FIRST e-mail the specialist for permission to use the instrument and at the specialist's discretion, schedule an initial assisted session of up to 2 hours to reinforce their operation skills.
  • NOTICE REGARDING AFTER-HOURS USAGE: Usage of CharFac outside of business hours (8AM-5PM) is a privilege granted to those who have first demonstrated repeated successful usage during business hours, as assessed and approved by the staff scientist who manages the equipment used. Any clarification of this privilege should be sought from the same scientific staff member. Having an active key card does not imply permission to use an arbitrary instrument after hours. 
  • It is incumbent on all users, implicit in user privileges, to communicate all major problems (those that seriously disrupt normal operation) to the pertinent staff specialist immediately when possible (i.e., talk to the staff member or maybe text if ok by them; staff do not generally sit with email open in front of them). Troubleshooting can be difficult or impossible if the lab session has been terminated by the user such that symptoms are no longer diagnosable. It is not acceptable to simply type a message into the comments field of the log and walk away! Staff effort in assessing a problem may be charged to the user’s account if immediate communication (not email) has been willfully neglected. 
  • Users are forbidden from attempting to repair any faulty system, whether a system abruptly stopped working, or was damaged during a user's session, or was discovered to be damaged by a user upon beginning a session (i.e., due to a previous user). Such tinkering will trigger repair charges if it worsened the problem.
  • Although routine wear and tear costs are covered by the CharFac (via revenues generated by user fees), all users must assume financial responsibility (parts, labor, shipping) for equipment damaged by overt user error. Clear statements are given during training about the care one must take to avoid damaging equipment during configuration procedures. (And if one drops a piece of sensitive equipment such that it breaks, this mistake cannot be considered "normal wear and tear".) Additional costs resulting from down time and staff effort in addressing the problem will be considered. In any case a dialog with the PI(s), to discuss the offense, is presumed; in some cases cost sharing may be considered.
  • Users must confirm their understanding (agreement) of the ethical implications of CharFac staff members executing analytical work for research projects (coauthorship and related concepts such as data ownership and intellectual property). Please read under the heading "Acknowledging CharFac" at

You must adhere to these rules:

  1. Sign in on the instrument using the Charfac Web sign-in at the beginning of your session and don't forget to sign-out after you log-off the instrument computer.
  2. Make note of any problems
  3. Report all breakages to staff as soon as possible
  4. Bring SEM samples to be coated at least 24 hours before session time
  5. Do not leave samples or chemicals on lab benches
  6. Clearly label all chemicals and hazardous waste with the date, your name, and your code number
  7. After hours access to Shepherd Labs and the Characterization Facilities requires a U-Card.  Access is controlled by UofM Department of Security and we send request to them to activate card for access.  For non-UofM users, you can purchase an access card for $50.

These items are not allowed in the facility:

  • Wet shoes or boots
  • Chemicals, unless you get specific permission and training from our safety officer.