Characterization Facility offers advanced materials research tools

The University of Minnesota offers businesses — large and small — with the equipment they need to develop ideas into viable products. The Characterization Facility (otherwise known as CharFac) provides the latest instrumentation related to microscopy, spectrometry, imaging, and material structure/property analysis. Equipment training is also available.

Questions? Alice Ressler, client relations manager at CharFac, has the answers…

What’s the brief history of CharFac?

It’s a multi-user, shared instrumentation facility. In operation since 1988, our capabilities span from hard and soft materials characterization to cellular imaging — covering several disciplines. The facility is supported by the College of Science and Engineering, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Medical School, and the School of Dentistry.

Who are your most active clients?

Our principal users fall into three categories: U of M students and faculty; academics from other institutions; and companies from biomedical, microelectronic, plastics and pharmaceutics industries. Approximately 140 faculty research programs use our instrumentation. These researchers originate from about 40 U of M departments and units from eight colleges.

We also work with about 50 industrial companies in a typical year, ranging from small startups to multinational corporations, and a few dozen external academic institutions.

What are some specific resources you provide for businesses?

We provide analytical services, training for independent use, and research collaboration in the form of analytic methods development. Some of our analytical capabilities include:

  • Electron microscopy, including cryogenic methods and tomography
  • Other microscopes using force probes and visible light
  • Elemental and chemical imaging including depth profiling
  • Elemental, chemical and mass spectrometry
  • Atomic and molecular structure analysis via X-ray, ion or electron scattering
  • Nanomechanical, nanotribological and nanorheological probes
  • Additional tools for surface and thin-film metrology (e.g. surface energy, film thickness and optical constants)

We extend our reach into greater Minnesota by providing demonstrations and tours; workshops and short courses; and summer research experiences. We specifically target industry, visiting faculty and students from four-year colleges, and K-12 educational groups.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Businesses can contact our technical specialists directly to discuss analytical needs via our staff page. New and potential users are invited to call 612-626-7594 (main office) for general information or 612-626-3756 for registration and service contract information.

Photos by Andria Peters

Republished with permission from Business @ the U of M, a publication of the Office of the Vice President for Research.