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Use our thermal and polymer characterisation service

Find out about the thermal analysis and polymer characterisation services at the Physical Structure Characterisation Facility.

Applications of thermal analysis

Thermal analysis is the study of the relationship between a sample property and its temperature. Applications include:

  • evaluation of thermal stability
  • detection of glass transition
  • determination of the amount of volatile matter in a sample
  • measurement of melting point temperature and enthalpy
  • analysis of the viscoelastic behaviour

Thermogravimetric analysis

Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) examines the physical and chemical properties of materials measured over time as the temperature is increased.

A researcher using thermal analysis equipment

It can be used in the analysis of:

  • volatile products
  • gaseous products lost during the reaction in thermoplastics
  • thermosets
  • elastomers
  • composites
  • films
  • fibres
  • coatings
  • paints

The thermogravimetric analysis process

A small mass of the material is placed in a furnace under a specific atmosphere and the variation in the mass is recorded following a defined temperature program. The temperature program can be set to:

  • a fixed temperature for a period of time (isothermal or static TGA)
  • a series of steps in temperature (quasi-static TGA)
  • a continuous increase in temperature at a constant heat rate (dynamic TGA)

TGA can be used to study the thermal stability, for identification or quality control of materials. Complex materials or mixtures can also be analysed with the right temperature program and gaseous environment.

TGA can also be used to study oxidation or reactions with other reactive gases or vapours.

Differential scanning calorimetry

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measures the heat flow rate to a sample under a gaseous atmosphere.

Heat flow compared with time and temperature can be analysed to determine:

  • the heat capacity
  • enthalpy of melting or fusion
  • enthalpy of reaction or thermal degradation
  • glass temperature transition

Exothermic or endothermic peaks from the baseline represent thermal changes in the samples. The specific heat capacity is determined by comparing the heat flow rate curves obtained on the sample and a standard reference.

Our equipment

We hold a range of thermal analysis instruments in the Physical Structure Characterisation Facility.

Technique Instrument Temperature range Acquisition program Comment Building Location
Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) Netzsch STA 449 Jupiter F1 30°C to 1000°C Proteus coupled with a mass spectrometer for evolving gas analysis 6 East
Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) Setsys Evolution TGA 16/18 by Setaram 30°C to 1000°C Calisto coupled with a mass spectrometer for evolving gas analysis 5 West
Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) DSC Q20 by TA Instruments -80°C to 400°C Q series for solid samples 5 West
Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) DMA1 by Mettler Toledo -170°C to 600°C STARe for films and bars in bending, tension and compression 5 West

Further information about thermal analysis

Learn more about the thermal anaylsis process and the techniques we use.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please get in touch.