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Thermal analysis at the Cebe Lab
Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and its variant, temperature-modulated DSC, are analytical methods used to measure the specific heat capacity of polymers, biopolymers, and nanocomposites. The Cebe Research Group used DSC to study the multiple melting endothermic behavior of isotactic polystyrene, shown in the figure below. The semicrystalline sample has a specific heat capacity that is intermediate between that of the solid state (dotted line) and the liquid state (dashed line). At 350K, the sample is in the solid state. As temperature increases, the sample undergoes its glass transition, and the heat capacity increases at Tg. At the highest temperature, 525K, the sample is molten liquid. Between Tg and the liquid state, the specific heat capacity departs from the underlying baseline heat capacity whenever the sample goes through a phase transition such as melting or crystallization. The deviations representing multiple melting behavior are marked as Tm1 and Tm2. The structural origin of these melting peaks is an active area of research for our group.

differential scanning calorimeter
Dr. Qian Ma operates the differential scanning calorimeter, which measures the temperature difference between the sample and an inert reference to determine the sample's specific heat capacity.