The DSC is a thermo-analytical technique measuring the heat required to change a samples temperature, which allows phase changes (solidification, glass transition points, solid state transformation) or lattice restructuring (recovery, recrystallisation) to be characterised from the precise thermal and energy measurement.
The DSC in the ASRC (figure 1) has a high temperature furnace, capable of heating up to 1600°C and holding an atmosphere (usually inert high purity argon). Heating rates of up to 20°C/min and cooling rates of 20°C/min allow for investigations into the effect of heating rates on phenomena such as undercooling or latent heat emission. The equipment takes sample sizes from 10 mg to 2 g. Samples sit on a Pt stage (figure 2) with space for the sample crucible (alumina or Pt) and an empty reference crucible.
Multiple heating and cooling runs of a sample and reference are conducted to ensure material preparation effects are excluded from the phenomena characterised. As energy is lost or gained during a phase-change, peaks are formed along the energy/temperature profile indicating the occurrence of a given phenomenon (figure 3).