Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Hitachi’s innovative RealView camera system lets users see what’s happening visually to a sample as a thermal analysis measurement is being conducted.

If a DSC, TGA or DMA analysis and the output curve contradicts any expectations or a change in color occurs in the sample after the experiment, but it’s not possible to see when it occurred, then it becomes clear that being able to observe what’s happening to the sample during the temperature change is a significant advantage.

It’s also an excellent way to way to teach someone about thermal analysis as users can see what is happening during analysis. This is perfect for researchers in academia and those without thermal analysis knowledge as it helps users understand what occurs during measurements.

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

The RealView system records the sample at pre-set intervals capturing images throughout the thermal analysis measurement. Images are taken with thermal analysis results, making it easy to relate the images to a point or section of the thermogram.

The NEXTA TA software enables users to work seamlessly with results and images collected. It is possible to pinpoint anomalies on the graph and match these to the image of the sample. It is also possible to run video of the whole measurement; this allows facilitates easy sharing of results between colleagues and with students and customers.

Seeing is Believing

To demonstrate how the RealView camera can radically change and upgrade thermal analysis, a couple of examples are presented below:

Unexplained ‘Bump’ in Epoxy TGA Output Trace

Uncured and cured epoxy samples were evaluated with thermogravimetric analysis from room temperature to 500 ºC. It is clear to see on the thermograms below that the cured sample results show an unexpected feature on the output graph at 400 ºC.

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

This is facilitated by RealView, without which only an experienced analyst could make this observation, or it would be necessary to re-analyze the samples to know if it was a real feature or just an artefact.

RealView shows users that this anomaly results from a quick loss of gas trapped in the sample, which burst out of the sample. The bubble burst made the sample move, and this generated the bump seen in the TGA result. Knowing this prevents the need to run multiple experiments to investigate the issue.

Highlighting Polymer Degradation

Not all sample degradation mechanisms show up as thermal reactions or sample weight loss. This means that conducting experiments in a classic DSC or STA might not offer a complete picture of what’s happening.

Suppose the product’s final color is a key feature. In that case, a TGA measurement could be performed to see if the sample changes color over a temperature range and if the stability confirms expectations. Only RealView enables monitoring of the color change throughout the entire experiment, showing users exactly when the color change occurs.

This ensures that the right amount of antioxidant is incorporated or that the production line is set up at the right temperature to avoid color changes. RealView helps in cases like this because it is possible to really hone in on tiny color variations – even when it’s difficult to detect by eye.

It also helps avoid human error as each person sees color differently. Therefore, RealView color measurement using RGB, Lab or CMYK facilitates precise and accurate color measurement.

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

With RealView enabled, the results above show that the polypropylene with 10% cellulose nanofiber was heated to 600 ºC in a TGA analyzer. Using Lab analytical mode, it can be observed that ‘b’ (the yellow) index increased between 200 ºC and 300 ºC.

There was no change in the TG signal during this time, but the color change determines precisely where the sample degradation occurred.

RealView Specifications

RealView is included as an option on Hitachi High-Tech’s NEXTA DSC, NEXTA STA and DMA7100 thermal analyzers and can be included at the point of sale or bought later as an upgrade. Its strength is down to a number of key design elements: the camera, the window between the camera and furnace and the software.

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

The camera is selected to offer exceptional image quality and excellent depth of field. This is crucial as the sample may not be homogeneous and having the sample in focus is vital or effective post-measurement analysis.

Hitachi High-Tech has installed an optimized lighting system within the chamber to make sure users can see every detail. The camera can also capture video, as well as image stills, making it possible to run a visual replay of the measurement.

On its NEXTA DSCs, Hitachi High-Tech has achieved a temperature range of -50 ºC to 300 ºC over which users can capture images. Thanks to a localized heating system that prevents the window from icing up, sub-zero temperatures are possible.

The standard software that comes with the RealView unit is really powerful, and as demonstrated in the examples above, its functionality supports sophisticated problem-solving. The most crucial feature is that each image (or video) is stored next to the time and temperature information.

Therefore, when looking at an output graph, an image can be generated for each point to identify exactly when the sample changed size or color. Additional software capability includes RGB, CMYK and Lab color analysis.

Upgrading Thermal Analysis with the RealView Camera System

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

Users can split the output graph into RGB sections to determine subtle color changes within the sample. It also enables easy customization and correction of images, as well as the possibility to create videos that can be easily shared.

To discover more about how Hitachi’s unique RealView system offers visibly better thermal analysis for numerous applications, get in touch.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

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