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  • Q: How do I become an NCF user?
    A: Please refer to the ‘Getting Started’ Section on the NCF main page.
  • Q: When can I take the safety exam?
    A: The NCF specific safety exam can be taken Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM (excluding university holidays) in the NCF main office in Rm. 3064 Engineering Research Facility, located at 842 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL, 60607. A copy of the exam can be found on the Policies and Pricing page. To pass the exam, you will have to answer more than 80% of the questions correctly. You will be notified of the results within 48 hours. If you do not pass the exam, you’re welcome to retake it another time.
  • Q: How do I get card access to the NCF?
    A: To gain UIC I-card card access to the NCF, you must first pass the safety exam. Then your name will be added to the list of individuals with swipe card access. Non-UIC affiliated individuals will need to obtain a visitor card from the UIC ID center. The visitor card request form can be obtained at the NCF main office. Swipe card access to the facility will be granted once you have your visitor card. You can always knock on the door of room 3064 ERF if you do not have your iCard.
  • Q: How can I schedule training?
    A: To schedule trainings, you will need to create an iLab account through the RRC. Please visit the “Getting Started” page to find out how to set up an account. Once registered, you can schedule trainings on iLab through the “Request Services” option on the NCF page.
  • Q: What if I need to use NCF for special one of experiments or sample characterization and I don’t want to go through the safety exam and training process? A: If you will only be using our facility once and would not like to go through the safety exam and training process, you can issue a work service request through the Request Services tab on iLab. Please make sure to specify that you require a work service and on what instrument. Work service request are charged at $100/hr of work.
  • Q: How many training sessions are required for instruments? A: The standard number of trainings for instruments is 3, although some simple instruments will require only 2 sessions. The first is a session with a member of NCF staff where you are shown how the instrument works. The second training can be with NCF staff or an authorized user, usually a lab mate, where you will have hands-on practice. The third training is a checkout session with a member of NCF staff where you are tested on how to use the instrument and any specific operational/safety points. Simple instruments will only require the initial session and the checkout.
  • Q: What happens if I do not pass the checkout session?
    A: If you fail the checkout session, you are required to take two additional training sessions before your next checkout session. For further failed checkout sessions, you are required to take two additional training sessions.
  • Q: How much does a training session cost?
    A: The training fee is $65/session for academic users, and $90/session for industrial users.
  • Q: How much is the cleanroom access fee?
    A: The cleanroom access fee is $34/hr for academic users, and $50/hr for industrial users.
  • Q: Where can I find instrument manuals?
    A: Instrument manuals are given to users during training.
  • Q: What instruments require a session begin/end?
    A: All instruments require you to Begin and End your reservation on iLab. To do so, click the “Go to Kiosk” tab on the “Schedule Instruments” page.
  • Q: How late can I cancel a reservation?
    A: Reservations can be cancelled up to 30 minutes before the actual scheduled time. For cancellation, you will be charged the reservation fee for the instrument.
  • Q: Can I start a reservation ahead of my schedule time?
    A: Yes, you can. Remember to click “Begin” in Kiosk and “End” when finished, as this tracks the actual usage time.
  • Q: What happens if I am late to a reservation?
    A: You can still begin your reservation if you are late. Once again, remember to click “Begin” in Kiosk and “End” when finished, as this tracks the actual usage time. Your reservation will be considered a no show after 2 hours and you will be charged the cancellation. Please keep other users’ reservations in mind. You do not want to begin a reservation if you will not have enough time to finish your work before the next user. In this case, you may request NCF staff to cancel your reservation for you. You will still be charged for the cancellation.
  • Q: How am I charged for instruments in the clean room?
    A: When using clean room instruments, you are charged a minimum or reservation fee, a clean room access fee, and a fee for use of the instrument, if the usage fee exceeds the minimum. The reservation fee is only charged if the user does not show up for their reservation and in most cases is equal to the minimum fee. The usage fee per hour varies by instrument and can be found on the iLab website, in the pricing section, next to the instrument name in “Schedule Instruments”.
  • Q: How am I charged for group training?
    A: You are charged the standard $65 for the first individual and $40 for each additional person. The fees for group training can be found on the NCF “Policies” page, under the “Training” section, on the RRC website.
  • Q: Where do I get keys for instruments?
    A: Keys for instruments must be checked out from the NCF office.
  • Q: What is the proper cleanroom gowning procedure?
    A: Please follow the gowning procedure below:

    1. Put on your gloves. Your bare hands need to be covered and never allowed to touch the suit.
    2. Put on your head covering and eyeglasses. Eyeglasses must ALWAYS be worn, even if you are just observing someone else.
    3. Put on your suit. Try not to mop the floor with your suit bottoms as you gown. Make sure the zipper is all the way up and no clothing remains exposed. At this time, pull your phone/camera, pens, and anything else you may need in the clean room out of your pockets. Do not unzip to retrieve items in the clean room.
    4. Sit down on the bench and put on your shoe booties. It is safer to sit and do this, rather than stand and possibly fall if you lose your balance.
    5. Remove your gloves and put on a new pair. You may also wear a second pair of gloves on top of the first pair. You may now enter the cleanroom.
    6. When leaving and disrobing, follow the above procedure in reverse. Gloves are the last thing you should remove.

    If these procedures are faithfully followed, the particle count in the clean rooms will remain low and ensure a good working environment for all.

  • Q: What do I do if the small green lights on the wall (NOT the toxic gas monitor red/orange/green lights) in the cleanroom corridor, photolithography bay, and NCF office areas are on?
    A: If the green lights above these doorways are on, let an NCF staff member know. These lights being on signify that the Nitrogen gas supply is low.
  • Q: What hours am I able to work in the cleanroom?
    A: You are able to work in the cleanroom from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Q: What do I do if I need to work outside of the normal NCF hours (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)?
    A: To work before or after the normal NCF hours, you must take the extended access safety training. You must also have a partner inside or outside the clean room watching you.
  • Q: What hours can I work in the NCF during university holidays?
    A: Working during university holidays requires you to have taken the extended access safety training. You can request extended user access safety training after becoming an NCF user.
  • Q: How do I check out the precious metals?
    A: To check out precious metals like gold or platinum, you must come to the NCF main office in rm 3064 ERF and request the metal you want. You will then weight the metal before use and after use. You are charged based on the how much you use.
  • Q: After hours, what do I do with precious metals, keys, and other items I checked out?
    A: If you have any items that you checked out and there are no NCF staff members around (e.g. after hours), drop the items in the safe located in the 3008AW corridor.
  • Q: What is the clean room phone number?
    A: (312) 413-9159
  • Q: What is the basement (room B21) phone number?
    A: (312) 413-2112
  • Q: Where and how can I make a donation?
    A: Please visit this link for information on donations
  • Q: Whom should I contact for administrative assistance?
    A: Please email our admin team at or
  • Q: Who should I contact for technical assistance on RRC Websites?? A: Please email our technical support team at or submit an iLabs ticket with the Scientific Computing Core