Asee peer logo

Laboratory Experiments In Thermal Analysis Of Polymers For A Senior/Graduate Level Materials Science Course

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Materials Lab Experiments and Demonstrations

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.830.1 - 15.830.12

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Michael Kessler Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Michael Kessler is an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. His research interests include the mechanics and processing of polymers and polymer matrix composites, thermal analysis, fracture mechanics, and biologically inspired materials.

visit author page


Prashanth Badrinarayanan Iowa State University

visit author page

Prashanth Badrinarayanan is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. His research interests include development and characterization of multifunctional polymer matrix nanocomposites and bio-based resins, and investigation of the glass transition phenomena in amorphous polymers and polymer blends using experimental and computational techniques.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Laboratory Experiments in Thermal Analysis of Polymers for a Senior/Graduate Level Materials Science Course


In the lab accompanying a senior/graduate level Physical and Mechanical Properties of Polymers course, five new lab experiments in thermal analysis of polymers were developed to supplement the classroom lectures and the existing lab exercises. One of these experiments used a new, state-of-the-art rapid heating and cooling differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) to investigate the effects of heating rate and isothermal annealing conditions on the thermal behavior of poly(ethylene terphthalate) (PET). This unique lab experiment was very successful with the students and, because of the high heating and cooling rates, the students were able to perform many experiments within the two hour lab. In this paper we discuss the implementation of these new thermal analysis labs in the course, with an emphasis in comparing the traditional DSC lab with the rapid heating/cooling DSC lab. Feedback from student surveys is also discussed.


Physical and Mechanical Properties of Polymers is a co-listed senior level undergraduate course and an elective graduate level course in Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. It consists of two one hour lecture sessions and one two hour lab each week. In the spring of 2009, five new thermal analysis lab exercises were added to the existing labs. These five labs were all in the broader field of thermal analysis. This resulted in a course with 13 labs which were performed by the students over one semester. The topic for these lab experiments are listed below, with the new labs in bold italics.

Lab 1: Synthesis of polystyrene and Nylon 6,6 Lab 2: Gel Permeation Chromatography Lab 3: Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Lab 4: Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) Lab 5: Rapid Heating/Cooling DSC (RHC DSC) Lab 6: Wide Angle X-Ray Diffraction Lab 7: Polarized Optical Microscopy Lab 8: Tensile Testing Lab 9: Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) Lab 10: Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) Lab 11: Reology Lab 12: Extrusion Lab 13: Injection Molding

There were a total of 24 students in the course, so the lab was broken up into 6 different sections (with four students in each section) which met to complete their lab experiments each week.

In this paper, we will begin by discussing how the lab section of this course was implemented. We then describe the five new thermal analysis labs that were developed. Two of these labs (Lab 4 and Lab 5) investigated the thermal transitions in a semi-crystalline polymer, poly (ethylene terephthalate) (PET) using differential scanning calorimetry. However, in Lab 5, the experiments were done using a unique high scanning rate differential scanning calorimeter. Such high scanning rate DSC measurements are just recently becoming available1,2, and offer unique

Kessler, M., & Badrinarayanan, P. (2010, June), Laboratory Experiments In Thermal Analysis Of Polymers For A Senior/Graduate Level Materials Science Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015