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Recommended Practice Guide: DTA and Heat-Flux DSC Measurements of Alloy Melting and Freezing



William J. Boettinger, Ursula R. Kattner, Kil-Won Moon, John Perepezko


This document is focused on differential thermal analysis (DTA) and heat-flux differential scanning calorimetry (HF-DSC) of metals and alloys. A thermal analysis guide focused only on metals and alloys is appropriate because they behave quite differently than molecular materials such as polymers and other inorganics. First, metals are good conductors of heat so that temperature differences at any instant can often be ignored with the small (200 mg) samples typical of differential thermal analysis. Secondly, liquid metals and alloys are typically monatomic. Freezing and melting occur rapidly in response to changes in temperature compared to other materials. Melting and freezing transformations, once initiated, take place within, at most, a degree of local thermodynamic equilibrium. Therefore the guide also focuses on melting and solidification behavior because special methods can be employed that are not useful for a broader class of materials and processes. The metallurgist should expect a high level of precision when proper attention is paid to technique and interpretation of data.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 960-15
Report Number


alloy, calorimetry, differential scanning, differential thermal analysis, freezing, melting, solidification


Boettinger, W. , Kattner, U. , Moon, K. and Perepezko, J. (2006), Recommended Practice Guide: DTA and Heat-Flux DSC Measurements of Alloy Melting and Freezing, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed March 31, 2023)
Created November 1, 2006, Updated February 19, 2017