Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC)

Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) is widely used for thermal analysis of materials associated with thermal transitions and chemical reactions.

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Testing Method Differential Scanning calorimeter (DSC)

Differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) is a thermal analytical technique in which the difference in the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a sample and reference is measured as a function of temperature. Both the sample and reference are maintained at nearly the same temperature throughout the experiment. Generally, the temperature program for a DSC analysis is designed such that the sample holder temperature increases linearly as a function of time. The reference sample should have a well-defined heat capacity over the range of temperatures to be scanned.


The basic principle underlying this technique is that, when the sample undergoes a physical transformation such as phase transitions, more (or less) heat will need to flow to it than the reference to maintain both at the same temperature.


Whether more or less heat must flow to the sample depends on whether the process is exothermic or endothermic. For example, as a solid sample melts to a liquid it will require more heat flowing to the sample to increase its temperature at the same rate as the reference.


This is due to the absorption of heat by the sample as it undergoes the endothermic phase transition from solid to liquid. Likewise, as the sample undergoes exothermic processes (such as crystallization) less heat is required to raise the sample temperature. By observing the difference in heat flow between the sample and reference, differential scanning calorimeters are able to measure the amount of heat absorbed or released during such transitions.


DSC may also be used to observe more subtle phase changes, such as glass transitions. DSC is widely used in industrial settings as a quality control instrument due to its applicability in evaluating sample purity and for studying polymer curing. The result of a DSC experiment is a heating or cooling curve.

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