Differential scanning calorimetry

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is a thermoanalytical technique that measures the heat flow through a polymer sample. Analysis gives precise results of material’s enthalpy changes. The DSC is used for characterizing phase transitions of solid and semisolid samples, it is also used to study biopolymer denaturation. There are many other reliable and cost effective solutions for DSC measurements. 

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Differential scanning calorimetry, also known as DSC is the most used thermal analysis method. It provides essential information about materials behaviour in different temperatures.

The sample and reference material are first cooled or heated at a steady rate. Heat flow is monitored to characterize the phase transitions as a function of temperature or time. Also, cure reactions can be monitored. The operation range is vast, thermal changes can be measured from -180°C to 725°C. Samples can be in the form of solid or semi-solid. The required sample size is small (1–20g).

Measuring conditions can be controlled in DSC-measurements. A DSC-analysator can be used to examine how well material can handle oxidative stress. This method is called oxidation induction time OIT. Typically DSC-systems use nitrogen, to prevent oxidation. In OIT sample is first heated to observation temperature. After heating, the nitrogen athmosphere is replaced by the oxygen atmosphere. OIT is the time from the change of gases to the exothermic peak. OIT describes how well material survives from oxidative stress in a given temperature.   

Suitable sample matrices

  • Food substances
  • Biopolymers, like proteins, enzymes etc.
  • Metals, alloys, films, fibers
  • Oils and greases
  • Amorphous substances
  • Polymers
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Powders

Ideal uses of DSC

  • DSC-analysis is used to determine metal alloys melting and solidification temperatures, metals in corrosive conditions are also usable.
  • In biotechnology, biopolymers thermal transition midpoints (Tm) are solved, because Tm describes the stability of a molecule.
  • For quality control purposes DSC is used to determine impurities from drugs, foods and plastics.
  • For optimizing material modification processes DSC-analysis gives money saving information about the heat capacity and enthalpy changes.
  • DSC-data is used for energy consumption calculations in food production line optimization.
  • Crystallization temperature and estimations of percent crystallinity.
  • DSC- analysis is used to determine the freezing point of food products and antifreeze substances.
  • DSC-analysis has several other usages.

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Frequently asked questions

What is DSC measurement commonly used for?

There are multiple applications for DSC analysis.

DSC is used to analyze heat changes in materials conformations.

Measured data helps to determine the storing temperature for example pharmacy products.

It is a common tool for product line optimization. DSC gives exact temperatures for distillation and other heat related processes.

Freezing-point depression is tool for purity analysis

What are the limitations of DSC analysis?

Some volatile samples are not optimal for DSC-analysis, because the test does not allow any sample loss during the process.

The method is destructive.

The DSC-analysis does not give direct elemental information.

If a reaction event occurs simultaneously with phase transition, the reliability of the test decreases.

What kind of samples can be analyzed with DSC?

Usually samples are solid or semisolids. Liquids can also be studied. High volatile substances may cause unreliability.

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.

DSC-analysis is the most used thermoanalytical method. This analysis provides essential information about materials behaviour in different temperatures. It gives out standing results even from small sample sizes.