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Thermal treatment and analysis

The art of adjacent (near-equilibrium) studies

Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Author: J. Šesták


Heating and/or cooling of substances is one of the oldest and basic methods for preparing materials with defined properties. This always leaves a definitive fingerprint of the thermal history. Beside knowing the structure we need to specify such materials by their thermodynamic behaviour, i.e., stability/metastability, phase relations and transitions, particularly establishing corresponding characteristic points. All this can be based on ordinary thermodynamics but its validity must be approved for non-equilibrium conditions of temperature changes where equilibrium and kinetic effects overlap. The slower the phase transition proceeds the greater is the deviation of the system state (kinetic curve) from its equilibrium state (equilibrium background). This makes possible to locate the actual phase boundary between two states investigated, resulting in the so-called kinetic phase diagrams. Most of modern technologies are intentionally based on non-equilibrium phenomena in order to create metastable/nonstable phases of specific properties. In this sense thermal analysis is understand as the method for determining the sample state on the basis of the sample interactions with the surroundings whose intensive parameters are controlled. Temperature is here considered as a basic parameter that connects all thermophysical measurements and thermal treatments.

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