Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

DSC measures energy absorbed or released by a sample due to changes in its physical and chemical properties as it is heated, cooled, or held isothermally. This allows you to study the behaviour of materials (solids, liquids) as a function of temperature, time, and/or atmosphere. This method also allows you to identify or compare materials and characterize them with regard to their structure or use.

First heating DSC curve of PET, showing the glass transition, cold crystallization peak, and melting peak.
DSC curve of PC-ABS polymer, showing the glass transitions.


Mettler Toledo DSC 3

System Capabilities:

  • Temperature range: −100 to 700 °C
  • Atmosphere: nitrogen or oxygen gas (others possible on request)
  • Heating rate: 0.02 to 300 °C/min
  • Cooling rate: 0.02 to 50 °C/min
  • Sample mass range: 5–20 mg used typically

Why Use DSC?

  • Measurement of characteristic temperatures of materials (e.g., melting, crystallization, glass transition)
  • Identification, comparison, or verification of samples (e.g. solids, powders, fibres, viscous samples such as pastes, creams, or gels, liquids)
  • Investigation of chemical reactions and kinetics (e.g., how long a material takes to cure (cross-link), vulcanization, influence of stabilizers, plasticizers, or other additives)
  • Thermal stability measurements (e.g., oxidation induction time (OIT), oxidation onset temperature (OOT))

Selected Applications in Industry:


DSC Application


Melting, curing reactions, glass transition, crystallization, decomposition


Glass transition, crystallization behaviour, melting, polymorphism, purity, oxidation, safety studies

Fats and oils

Melting behaviour, crystallization, oxidation induction time

Paints and lacquers

Curing reactions, glass transition

Rubber (elastomers)

Vulcanization, glass transition, melting, filler influence

Plastics (thermosets, coatings, adhesives, thermoplastics, packaging)

Melting, glass transition, curing reactions, crosslinking, cold crystallization, oxidation induction time


Influences on glass transition, melting, crystallization, polymorphism, reaction kinetics

Food industry

Melting, glass transition, crystallization, polymorphism, denaturation, dehydration, liquid fraction


Polymorphism, melting point, crystallization, glass transition, purity, kinetics