The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) is a core research facility of the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy). Funded by the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI), which is part of ND Energy, this facility provides world-class, state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation to support scientific advancements and new or improved sustainable energy technologies and systems. Major capabilities include general materials characterization, solar fuels and electrocatalyst characterization, and actinides.

  • General Materials Characterization provides modern instrumentation and expertise for solid and liquid material characterization by spectroscopic, thermal, X-ray, BET, and spectrometric analytical methods.
  • Solar Fuels and Electrocatalyst Characterization focuses on developing new functional materials engineered at the nanoscale to effectively capture solar radiation, interfaced to materials that can use that energy to drive useful chemical reactions.
  • The Actinides facility specializes in crystallographic characterization and offers the capability to conduct in-situ synthetic studies of complex actinide materials containing transuranium elements.

The MCF welcomes users from the University of Notre Dame and external academia and industrial institutions.

Please contact Ian Lightcap at or 574-631-1493.

The major instrumentation includes:


  • FTIR Spectrometer equipped with ATR and Diffuse reflectance accessory  (Jasco)
  • Micro-Raman Spectrometer equipped with 532 nm and 785 nm lasers (Jasco)
  • Raman Spectrometer equipped with 785 nm laser and two optical fiber extensions for in-situ monitoring of thermal reactions in solution (Bruker)
  • UV-Vis Spectrometer equipped with integrating sphere accessory  (Jasco)
  • DRIFTS Praying Mantis cell for in-situ diffuse reflectance UV-Vis and FTIR materials characterization; includes reaction chamber for sample heating and gas introduction ( )

Surface Analysis

  • BET: Physisorption/Chemisorption (Micromeritics)
  • Profilometer (Bruker)
  • XPS with external high temperature/high pressure chamber (PHI)

Thermal Analysis

  • DSC (Mettler Toledo)
  • DSC/TGA-Mass Spectrometer unit (Mettler Toledo / Pfeiffer)
  • Isothermal Calorimeter (Setaram)


  • Powder XRD  (Bruker)
  • Single Crystal XRD  (Bruker)


  • Microwave Reactor equipped with gas addition kit (CEM)

Polymer/Particle Analysis

  • SEC-MALS (Wyatt)
  • Zetasizer (Malvern)

Gas Analysis

  • Gas Chromatograph with Mass Spectrometry