DSC vs DTA: Difference and Comparison

The best way to understand the difference between differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and differential thermal analysis (DTA) is to look at their processes. Although they both record temperature changes yet they have different objectives.

Key Takeaways

  1. DSC measures the heat flow changes in a sample as it undergoes a temperature change, while DTA detects temperature differences between a sample and a reference.
  2. DSC provides quantitative data on heat capacity and phase transitions, while DTA offers qualitative information about thermal events.
  3. DSC is more sensitive and accurate than DTA, making it the preferred method for characterizing materials.


DSC stands for Differential Scanning Calorimetry, a thermal analysis technique used to study materials’ physical and chemical properties. DTA stands for Differential Thermal Analysis, which is another thermal analysis technique used to study the thermal behaviour of materials.


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It is used to examine phase changes, such as melting and freezing, as well as other physical and chemical processes. It is a common technique used in polymer science and engineering, pharmaceuticals, and many other fields.

This is done by heating one sample while the other is kept at a cooler temperature, called the reference temperature. The results from this test are used to compare the thermal conductivity of the materials being tested or to see if the material being tested is an insulator or a conductor.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDSCDTA
Full-FormDSC is the abbreviation of Differential Scanning Calorimetry.DTA is the abbreviation of Differential Thermal Analysis.
Introduced ByIt was introduced by Watson and Neil.It was introduced by Le- Chateliar.             
BasisDSC measured heat flow in a substance.DTA measures temperature changes.
UseIt is best suited to find characteristic temperatures of different substances.It is best suited to find certain values like temperature of fusion or other caloric values.
AccuracyIt is very precise as temperature changes are recorded along with the concept of heat flow.It’s is less accurate than DSC.

What is DSC?

Differential scanning calorimetry is a technique used by scientists to find out the melting point of a substance. By placing a substance in a closed container, putting it under high pressure and monitoring the temperature changes, a graph showing the melting point can be made.

Using a known calibration curve, the melting point can be determined. The equation is Q=mcΔT. It can also be used to determine the degradation temperature of polymers like polyethene terephthalate.

The instruments used to carry out DSC vary in size and complexity, with the simpler models doing only temperature measurements of the sample, while the more complex versions are capable of measuring the kinetic energy of phase changes as well.

This is not only a graphical representation made of the temperature changes, but also the heat flow is being considered.

What is DTA?

Differential thermal analysis is a technique that is used to determine the thermal properties of thermal conductivity and thermal expansion. Thermal conductivity defines the rate of heat transfer of the material as it experiences a change in temperature, which is measured in W/m2•K.

The development of differential thermal analysis (DTA), or thermogravimetry (TG)/DTG, has become a routine technique in characterizing materials of interest to scientists and engineers.

It is a thermal analysis technique that measures mass loss as a function of temperature. DTA/TG/DTG is commonly used to identify the endothermic and exothermic reaction of material, including the onset and completion of the reaction, and to measure the thermal stability of a material.

Differential scanning calorimetry is a test designed to show the thermal properties of a material. This test is performed by determining how much energy is required to increase the temperature of a material under constant pressure.

Main Differences Between DSC and DTA

  1. One of the main differences between DSC and DTA is that DTA also measures the change in enthalpy while DSC does not.
  2. DSC is used to analyze biologically active elements like enzymes, minerals, and so on, while DTA is used to analyze proteins, antibiotics, and antibodies.
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tRt-Z5Duz7QC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=differential+scanning+calorimetry&ots=7F1UnOFcFU&sig=iufmQP_EI-XA-F9TRiKreCBAl1Y
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ac60030a011

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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