Differential scanning calorimetry in a piston-cylinder apparatus: Design and calibration

Robert P. Rapp, Alexandra Navrotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We have designed and calibrated a piston-cylinder cell assembly suitable for conducting in situ measurements of enthalpies of phase transitions at elevated pressures by heat-flux differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The high-pressure DSC detector consists of a Pt-Pt13%Rh thermopile wrapped around a frame of fired pyrophyllite. Four thermocouple junctions, arranged radially around the sample capsule, are connected in series, with four reference thermocouple junctions located 3-4 mm above the sample and embedded in thermally inert ceramic. A W-W25%Re control thermocouple is situated directly above the top of the sample; the whole detector assembly is enclosed in a 1.5 mm thick cylindrical ceramic sleeve located at the center of a 8-10 mm long "hot-zone" in the tapered graphite furnace. Using this detector design and cell assembly, we have observed the thermal signal associated with the fusion of Au at 0.5 and 1.2 GPa, and have calculated a calibration factor (K) for this detector based on the gold melting curve of Mirwald and Kennedy (1979). Detector sensitivity decreases by a factor of four over this pressure-temperature interval. The reproducibility of the enthalpy of fusion of gold at 0.5 GPa suggests that detector geometry is reproducible from one experiment to the next, and thus confirms the viability of this particular detector design for quantitative DSC measurements. Subsequent experiments will assess the dependence of (K) on temperature and pressure by measuring the enthalpies of fusion of additional metals (e.g., Ag, Cu, Al, Ge) and salts (e.g., NaCl, CsCl).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-629
Number of pages15
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental techniques
  • calorimetry
  • high-pressure
  • mineral physics
  • phase transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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