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Self-built Thermal Gravimetric Analyzer outperforms more costly standard instruments

Working towards a PhD at North Carolina State University’s Department of Chemistry under the guidance of advisor James D. Martin, Research Graduate Robert Wilcox is using a microbalance head, logging software and accessories supplied by CI Precision of the UK. Wilcox has incorporated the microbalance head within experimental apparatus that he designed himself in order to investigate interactions between small molecules and solids.

As well as the PTFE-coated Mk2-M5 microbalance head, Mr. Wilcox is also using a DISBAL control unit, LabWeigh software package, cables and accessories from CI Precision. However, he manufactured his own glassware to create the sample enclosure and other elements of the apparatus.

Commenting on the modular design of the microbalance, he says:

“It was great to be able to purchase the microbalance in the form of a cost-effective kit so I could build up the instrument to suit my needs. I am really pleased with the way it all turned out, and it all runs very smoothly. CI Electronics was extremely helpful before I placed the order, providing lots of information to help me design the instrument. In use, the microbalance head has proven to be robust and reliable, so I have not needed to contact CI Precision  for any ongoing technical support.”

Before building the new instrument, Robert Wilcox had used a conventional thermal gravimetric analyzer (TGA), but this gave poor control at the low temperatures at which he wanted to operate, and the performance at low vapour pressures was restricted. Using his own set-up, Mr. Wilcox is able to flow a gas over the solid sample, control the temperature and record the absorption time using CI’s LabWeigh software.

This approach has enabled him to study the reaction kinematics and map phase diagrams as part of his research into interactions between small molecules and solids. Because of the microbalance’s ability to measure with microgram accuracy, Mr. Wilcox benefits from being able to use relatively small sample sizes.

For more information about microbalance kits and accessories from CI Precision, please telephone us on +44 (0) 1722 424100 or e-mail

Self-built Thermal Gravimetric Analyzer outperforms more costly standard instruments

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