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Advanced Materials Characterization Certificate


In the four-course Advanced Materials Characterization Certificate (AMCC) students will explore techniques for characterizing and analyzing the atomic-through-mesoscale structure of materials and their surfaces. Students will learn the fundamental principles and limitations of a range of techniques, prepare samples, and operate state-of-the-art equipment. The program provides direct, hands-on experiences to both on-campus and distance learning participants by leveraging internet-based remote operation of characterization equipment in the UK Electron Microscopy Center.

Tools and Techniques: 

The AMCC aims to provide students with an interactive and engaging experience using state-of-the-art instruments. Using live, remote demonstrations of instrument capabilities and real samples, students will work through characterization challenges they will likely face in their own work. Students will have the opportunity to work with:

  • Scanning Electron Microscope with integrated Focused Ion Beam (FIB/SEM, Helios Nanolab 660/G3 from ThermoFisher Scientific) 
  • Surface imaging techniques, elemental analysis, and crystal orientation and texture analysis via Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) and Electron BackScatter Diffraction (EBSD) (Oxford Instruments), and Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)
  • TEM (Talos F200X, ThermoFisher Scientific) offers ultra-high-resolution imaging capabilities, coupled with advanced analytical techniques 
  • Nanoscale cross-sectioning and FIB milling for TEM sample preparation 
  • X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS, K-Alpha system from ThermoFisher Scientific) 

In parallel with instrument demonstrations, students will be introduced to various software packages for in-depth analysis of images and data generated during class.  


Program Notes: 

The AMCC is appropriate for current professionals and post-baccalaureate students from a range of STEM backgrounds and industries. This online certificate requires some synchronous distance learning activities which occur at fixed times (please see course notes or contact the Certificate Director for details on required times for current offerings). The required courses may be completed over two or more semesters, but must be completed within three calendar years. Per Graduate School requirements, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to complete the Certificate. Prior graduate credit from UK or elsewhere (if eligible to transfer) may be transferred to replace equivalent coursework at the discretion of the Certificate Director.

Required Courses

Fall Semester:

  • MSE 585 – Materials Characterization Techniques (3 credits)
  • MSE 520 – Advanced Materials Characterization: Imaging and Surface Science Techniques (3 credits)

Spring Semester:

  • MSE 510 – Structure of Materials (3 credits)
  • MSE 521 – Advanced Materials Characterization: Diffraction and Spectroscopic Techniques (3 credits)

All required courses are available fully online and in person. Courses should be taken either together in each semester may be taken in any order, although if taken one at a time, MSE 585 should be completed first. Please contact the AMCGC Director with questions!

Admission Requirements and Application Procedure

Admission to the AMCGC program requires an earned Bachelor’s degree in a related science or engineering field and earned credit or experience equivalent to an introductory course in Materials Engineering. Students with diverse backgrounds and experiences are strongly encouraged to apply. Admission requirements are in place only to help position students to succeed–if you have questions about these requirements, or are unsure if your background is appropriate, please contact the AMCGC Director!

To apply to for the UK AMCGC, please visit the UK Online portal!

Program Student Learning Outcomes

After completing the AMCC, students will be able to recognize the characterization techniques capabilities and limitations, allowing them to identify and select the most appropriate methods for their research needs. They will also have gained knowledge of the instruments’ designs and details of operation, and will be able to leverage this knowledge to fully utilize the equipment capabilities. Students will be able to…

  • Discuss, evaluate and communicate the fundamental operating principles of materials characterization techniques
  • Prepare samples for and conduct characterization experiments using a range of characterization tools
  • Identify the characterization tools and techniques appropriate for specific materials and/or engineering problems
  • Effectively communicate materials characterization results orally and in writing