Thermal analysis, as the name suggests is analyzing the change in the properties of materials when they are subjected to different temperatures. Different techniques are used and the response of the material is then plotted as a function of temperature and time. This is an indispensable branch of materials science. It is crucial to determine the way a substance reacts to a change in temperature.
Who does this impact?
Food companies use it to know the optimum temperature to store their products without spoiling. Oceanographers want to know if the temperature at the bottom of the sea will affect the equipment they use. Software companies need to know what is the exact range of temperatures that will keep both their machines as well as their employees happy and working. Engineers will also want to check out if the bridges that they build will survive the expansion and contraction due to the temperatures they are subjected to.
Due to such a wide area of application, instruments used in the various different methods of thermal analysis are carefully calibrated and made highly sensitive to aid researchers in the best possible way.
Does vibration affect thermal analysis instruments?
As an example of how vibrations can affect your thermal analysis instruments, let us consider a test in one method of thermal analysis called Thermogravimetric analysis. The test we will consider is the ‘Blank Test’.
This is a test of the apparatus without the sample material in it. The Blank Test gives us an idea of the health of the instrument we are about to use and is thus a necessity in thermal analysis. When we run such a Blank Test, we plot a curve of the changes in physical and chemical properties against an increasing temperature. This curve is also called the Thermogravimetric Analysis curve(TGA Curve) and is affected by noise present in the equipment.
Various factors that contribute to the noise may be the touching together of the different minute components within the apparatus which can occur due to external vibrations. Hence, an inaccurate TGA curve is obtained.
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