Mail-in Program

The available mail-in beamtime is very dynamic with a fractional upper cap each cycle, and also depends on the availability of requested sample environments. Before submission, check first with VULCAN team for those details. For proof-of-principle, do not use this mail-in program. For proprietary work, contact industry liaison first.  

  • Mail-in proposals are reviewed continuously, allowing for a very short turn-around time. You can apply for a mail-in proposal at any time using the Integrated Proposal Tracking System. Choose ‘Mail-in’ as a proposal type. 

  • We recommend one mail-in per team per cycle. However, if there are open days left, different science proposals from one team can be submitted. If the requested time exceeds the number of available beam days, priority is given to new users.

  • Once approved, users will be notified of the approval, and users must follow the administrative instructions requiring timely response and must provide samples according to the planned sample format in the proposal.  

  • A mail-in proposal will not be accepted if it competes with an approved General User Program proposal. 

  • Limit the proposal to one page. Mail-in proposals must be clear and short with a detailed measurement plan. 

  • One proposal cannot exceed 24 hours and can request a time period as short as 1 hour; typically, requests for a few hours are common. ( the IPTS system does not reflect the use of hours, so specify it in a proposal). 

  • The number of samples must be below the sample limits, depending on the experiment type.  (See below for ‘Detailed requirements based on different experiments’.) 

  • When shipping samples, the sample loading sheet needs to be filled with VULCAN operation parameters for each sample.

  • The data will be processed with the VULCAN auto reduction software, currently producing input files for GSAS. Users have the full responsibility to independently analyze data. refer to the VULCAN guidance page for how to access your data.

The mail-in proposal will cancel/expire and will not carry over given any of the circumstances below: 

  • Samples are not received on time to fit in the available beamtime. 

  • Samples are not in the right format of the proposed experiment.  

  • The requested sample environments are not available anymore. e.g. swapped out for current general user program cycle or need repairs, etc.  

  • Beam production is reduced or canceled due to any unpredicted reason.  

  • Main-in program beam days of current cycle have been used up.  

Users will be notified of the cancelation/expiration, and are encouraged to resubmit the proposal. 

Detailed requirements based on different experiments (please follow the instructions below or the proposal may not be accepted): 

Users must provide a clear and concise measurement plan in the proposal. For heating and loading, the rate needs to be specified, and a laboratory testing curve must be provided for mechanical testing upon submission. For battery cycling, the testing plan must articulate the charge rate and cut-off voltage/current. 

  1. Room temperature powder-like measurement in a standard sample holder (vise, PAC can, optical clip, etc.). Measurement instrument setting and estimated time should be specified in the proposal. By default, the approved beam time will be evenly distributed to each sample by using HI-20 Hz mode if no clear measurement plan is provided. 
  2. Texture. Standard 3 hours measurement routine will be used regardless of chopper or guide settings.   
  3. In-situ mechanical engineering diffraction by using VULCAN mechanical loadframe with a standard sample form. Force is within the capacity of LF +/-90kN, and heating (if applied) should be doable by induction coil with welded K-type thermocouple feedback. The typical temperature limit should not exceed 1000C and the sample should be stable in any given temperature range. Strictly follow standard geometry for mail-in. No on-site machining of any modification will be provided.  
  4. Conventional standalone furnaces, such as VULCAN ILL vacuum furnace (1600oC), HFIR CAF furnace (1500oC, currently only support plant air/N2 atmosphere). Sample should fit in standard furnace heating sample holder and within controllable heating rate and limit of the furnace. The sample limit is 1-2 depending on the time of the heating-cooling cycle. It takes normally 4 hours to be cooled down. Note: this mail-in is only available when there is a matching sample environment request in the approved general user proposals.  
  5. Battery cycling. Current/Voltage is below the available cycler range. Users may be asked to provide a specific sample holder. 
  6. Other types of measurement not mentioned above will not be accepted by mail-in. However, we are open to discussion if the measurement is as easy as setting up a powder-like measurement where auto-alignment is employed. Contact VULCAN team for details.   

List of different types of mail-in experiments. (incident beam size is between 1-8 mm in width and 1-12 mm in height with or without 5 mm radial collimators). 


Sample limit

Sample holder

Sample geometry



RT powder 


PAC can, optical clips 





Texture gadget 

10x10x10mm3 cube. 



In-situ engineering diffraction 

Standard LF grips 

See LF geometry file. 

+/-90kN force, fatigue exp is excluded.

25oC-1000oC by induction heating 

Standalone furnace 


½” MgO crucible 

Powder or cylinder to fill up to 15mm of the crucible  


25oC-1600oC for vacuum; 25oC-1500oC for CAF with plant air/N2 


Optical clips 

No coin cell. 

+/- 5V, +/-500mA