Thermal Analysis: The Top 10 Ways It Is Used in Materials Research

Thermal analysis provides vital information on the characteristics of a material and how it is expected to function in the field. This, combined with its relative simplicity, means that techniques such as thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) are crucial when it comes to developing novel materials for exacting applications, such as medical and pharmaceuticals devices.

This article identifies ten illustrations of how Hitachi’s range of thermal analyzers supports innovative research on a global scale.

Thermal Analysis: The Top 10 Ways It Is Used in Materials Research

Image Credit: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

1. New Materials for LED Heatsinks

Due to their low cost and weight, polymer composite heatsinks are considered a good alternative to aluminum. It is also possible to design a custom performance by simply adjusting the composition.

Graphene has garnered a great deal of interest as a nanofiller for polymer composites when used in this way, but its large surface area complicates the potential of even dispersion across the polymer matrix.

To address this issue, Cho et al. are conducting experiments that bridge materials between the graphene and polymer using Hitachi’s DSC7000 to establish the transition temperature and thermal stability of the composite materials.1

2. Producing Polymers with Specific Surface Characteristics

One primary objective when researching new materials is to create materials with low weight, high strength, and excellent thermal stability. Honeycomb structures demonstrate these characteristics, and current research revolves around creating micro-patterned polymer surfaces with functionalized cavities.

Good control of the distribution of particles within these materials is crucial for managing their characteristics, and Lakshmi et al. is working on creating polystyrene-alumina hybrid films. Hitachi’s STA7200 simultaneous gravimetric analyzer was employed to establish the organic content of the styrene-modified alumina particles.2

3. Hydrogel Characterization for Drug Release

Nishimoto et al. have been conducting investigations into using methylcellulose (MC) as a hydrogel within pharmaceutical applications.

Specific characteristics of MC hydrogels, such as variations in gelation temperature, influence drug release. Hitachi’s DSC7000 has been employed in this research to assess the interactions between a polyethylene glycol additive and MC.3

4. Determining Essential Thermal Properties of Synthesized Materials

Wherever thermal behavior is a key part of novel synthesized material research, thermal analysis is crucial when it comes to characterizing thermal properties. For instance, Ferreira et al. have been immersed in the design of the thermal behavior of ammonium-based zwitterions (ZIs).

Hitachi’s DSC7000 differential scanning calorimeter had a central role in establishing the fundamental thermal properties of the ZIs, such as decomposition temperature.4

5. Enhancing the Procedure of Grafting Styrene onto Chitosan

When it comes to developing novel polymer materials, the main challenge is often getting the characteristics just right, and in this case, modifying the surface characteristics of Chitosan is performed by grafting styrene onto it.

The resulting materials characterization was intensively evaluated, and thermal analysis has a key role in determining the resulting thermal stability of the copolymer material. Hitachi’s DSC7000 differential scanning calorimeter was employed for the purpose of this study.5

6. Examining Thermal Properties of Prospective Materials for Fusion-Based Energy

Lithium titanate has been identified as a potential material for the supply of essential tritium for fusion energy reactors.

Lithium titanate is manufactured via a reaction between lithium carbonate and titanium dioxide, and this reaction was studied by Sharma and Uniyal. Thermogravimetric analysis (TG) was utilized to fully comprehend the kinetic mechanisms at the center of this reaction, and Hitachi’s STA7200 was employed throughout the research.6

7. Research into How Thermal Properties Shift When Materials Become Ultra-Thin

As materials get smaller, their properties become increasingly dependent on surface characteristics as opposed to bulk characteristics. This study (by Iwasa et al.) incorporates differential scanning calorimetry (with Hitachi’s DSC7000) and atomic force microscopy to comprehend the effect of surface characteristics on the phase transition behavior of n-alkyl alcohol micro crystals.7

8. Evaluating Drug Efficacy After Exposure to Light

When exposed to light, some pharmaceuticals may be prone to degradation. During a study by Hubicka et al.,  the main focus was the effectiveness of antibacterial drugs from the fluoroquinolones group.

These materials may experience photodegradation which impedes antibacterial effectiveness and may even lead to potential side effects. Together with the UPLC-MS /MS method, Hitachi’s DSC 7020 was employed for comparative analysis of the samples prior to and after irradiation.8

9. Understanding Drug Release and Dissolution in Tablet Formulations

How drugs in tablet formulations dissolve in the body is an essential part of pharmaceutical research.

In this study, Talik and Hubicka evaluated the non-freezing water content of hydrated hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC) to better comprehend the drug release of compounds with varying solubilities and HPCs of different molecular masses and viscosities. Differential scanning calorimetry (Hitachi’s DSC7020 model) was deployed throughout the research.9

10. Analysis of What Factors Impact the Polymorphic Transition Temperature of Materials

Polymorphic materials have the capacity to transform from one crystal structure to another. Yokata et al. investigated the polymorphic effects of terpyridine (terpy) and found that the transformation temperature can be tuned depending on the grinding level of the starting crystals.

Hitachi’s DSC7000 differential scanning calorimeter was employed to establish the transition temperature under various conditions.10

Advanced Instruments for Research Applications

Hitachi High-Tech’s thermal analyzers have a level of baseline stability considered best-in-class and are sensitive enough to determine even the smallest changes on the most minute samples, making them primed for research applications.

Hitachi’s novel RealView system provides users with a visual record of changes to their samples, expanding the understanding of material changes and characterization.

To discover more about how Hitachi’s range of advanced thermal analyzers can be of assistance in research and development, speak with one of Hitachi’s application experts, or arrange a demo today.



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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