MCF Reopening – June 18

For information regarding MCF reopening plans and procedures, please see  MCF New Procedures-Draft3 – final

Getting Started

What is SUMS?

SUMS is Georgia Tech’s “Shared User Management System” https://sums.gatech.edu/ .  It is the software that manages access and billing to the MCF and many other lab facilities at Georgia Tech.  It can be accessed at the point-of-service in our facility or through any network or mobile web-enabled device.

How do I login to SUMS?

Go to https://sums.gatech.edu/ and login with your GT credentials.

How do I become a member of MCF?

Once you are logged into SUMS Please select “Equipment Group List” from the Equipment Groups drop down menu near the top of the page.  After that, select:

  • IEN/IMAT Materials Characterization Facility from the list, then select
  • Training Icon (should look like a lightbulb), then select
  • Training requirements link at the left, then
  • Click the “Fill Out Form” button, which will ask you 11 questions about you and your research
  • After you submit the form, you will automatically be an MCF member.

Can I request a tour of the facility?

Of course yes! Please contact the MCF staff, we are always available to show you around.

How do I set up a billing account?

You will need to join a Billing Group in SUMS. The Principle Investigator (PI) of the group will be able to set it up under his/her GT credentials. A Billing Group can have multiple members in it. The PI of the group can then financially authorize each individual member to use the MCF facility.

Do I require any X- Ray radiation training?

Yes, most of the MCF equipment requires X-Ray safety training. Please visit https://faculty.gatech.edu/hg/item/629598 to join the next training class.

What is the best way for me to contact staff?

You can email us directly, all our contacts are listed in the website. You can also use SUMS to contact us and start a new conversation.

Research & Lab Questions


Are there any sample restrictions?

Yes definitely, this will vary depending on the tool and the type of technique. Please contact staff for details.

How do I get trained on an equipment/tool?

Once you are a member of MCF, you will be able to login to SUMS and request training for a tool.  You can request training on multiple tools at a time. Once the trainer receives the request, he/she will set up a group training class. You will then have to sign up for the class in SUMS. It can take anywhere from couple of days to two weeks to set up a training session (depending on the availability of user, tool and staff).

Is there a fee for training?

Yes, training is $20/hr.

How long does it take to get trained on an equipment?

The training requirement for each equipment is different. The group sessions are usually anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Some tools may require multiple sessions. The trainer will guide you during the first session.

Are there any SOP’s available?

Yes! The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for each tool can be found under the “Information” tab under “Instructions” in the SUMS Equipment page. You can also find them here in the individual tool page.

Do I immediately get access to the tool after attending a training class?

No, users are required to pass a hands-on test in order to get access to the tool. This session is called a “Check Off”. The user can get in touch with the trainer to schedule a check off. He/she will also be able to request Check Off for a tool in SUMS.

Can I set up practice time on an equipment?

Yes, users will be able to set up one on one hands on practice sessions with the trainer. It is recommended you bring your samples, as the staff can assist you accordingly. You will be charged the training cost that is $20/hr.

Is software available for users to download for offline analysis?

MCF has multi-user license for some software and some are single user license only. The staff can guide you through it.  Some of the offline analysis software are available in the computer lab in the Marcus facility (open 24/7 for users).

What about sample preparation?

We help, assist and guide you with sample preparation. The MCF has a fully equipped prep lab, with fume hood, vacuum ovens, hot plates, balance, ultrasonic bath, carbon coater, Au/Pd Sputter coater, UV-Ozone cleaners, IR heat lamp, refrigerator/ freezer, solvents etc. and all basic lab supplies.

How do I schedule time on a tool?

Once you have passed the “Check Off”, the staff will grant you authorization (in SUMS) to use the equipment. You will be able to reserve, modify, delete time in the SUMS equipment page.

How long can I reserve a tool?

All our tools are available 24/7, 365 days; and can be reserved to use any time. Some of the heavily used tools have a time limit (like 2 or 3 hours at a time). All users can reserve time on multiple tools and up to 7 days in advance. Some tools are very busy and will require advance scheduling. Please remember to delete any scheduled time that you will not use.

How does MCF keep track of my usage?

Every time you use a tool, you will have to login to an Access Controller (with your GT buzz card). This way SUMS will keep track of your actual usage and bill you for the logged time only (and not scheduled time). You can always use SUMS to login and log out of a tool.

What if I forget to log out from the Access Controller?

If you forget to log out, you will be able to dispute your charges in SUMS. The staff can also help you with it.

Do I need door access to the lab?

Yes, you will need buzz card access to all the doors leading to the lab. They are usually kept open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. But they will be automatically locked before/after hours and during weekends. Please contact IEN’s Facility Manager, Brian Doles brian.doles@ien.gatech.edu /470.381.8836

What does it mean if a “Tool is Marked Down!”?

If a Tool is Marked Down, then the users will not be able to reserve time or use it during that period. A tool is usually Marked Down for routine service, maintenance, repairs, facility, computer and software issues.

How do the MCF staff communicate to users?

All communications will be through SUMS. This is the only way staff can communicate information about current tool updates, change in tool status, processes & procedures.

What if something goes wrong in the middle of my experiment and I cannot find staff?

Please try to call one of us from the numbers listed, if not you can email us directly or use SUMS to communicate.

What if I need a technique that is not listed under the MCF equipment list?

The MCF is constantly expanding its capabilities and techniques, it is best to directly contact the staff and discuss.

Can the MCF run the experiments and analyze the samples for me?

Yes! there would be an additional staff charge of $75/hr. Please discuss the various options with the staff.

What if I am not sure, which is the best tool/technique I need to use?

Don’t worry! you can set up a “characterization help session” with one of the staff. Please contact us directly.

What about maintenance and calibration of equipment?

All our equipment is routinely checked and calibrated to great standards. Most of them have annual PM (Preventive Maintenance) and service visits scheduled. All calibration data are posted on our website. Note that any minor/major issues with the tool will be immediately communicated to the users through SUMS.

What if I want to make modifications to the current equipment set up?

The MCF is willing to work with you. We will assist with new capabilities & tool expansions and try our best to make it possible.

Does MCF take remote work?

Yes! We do a lot of remote work and analysis support. Our highly trained and well experienced staff can help you with your characterization demands and needs. Please feel free to contact any staff. We try to be as accommodating and flexible as possible. Our staff rate is $75/hr.

What if my university is a part of the Georgia Research Alliance Core Exchange?

MCF is a core research facility at Georgia Tech and is a part of the Georgia Research Alliance Core Exchange program. You will benefit from the same rate and terms of our internal facility users, and you will not be subject to the Facilities and Administration costs that other users have to pay (i.e., your bill will not have “overhead” charges applied).

How do I acknowledge the MCF in publications/presentations?

This work was performed in part at the Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) at Georgia Tech.  The MCF is jointly supported by the GT Institute for Materials (IMat) and the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN), which is a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant ECCS-2025462).