Thermal Analysis Laboratory

Thermal Analysis Laboratory

The Thermal Analysis Lab provides access to advanced scientific instrumentation for the measurement of the thermal properties of materials in support of the educational, research and public service missions of WKU for faculty and students requiring thermal analysis data. AMI also actively conducts third party thermal analysis of samples for local, regional and national businesses and governmental agencies.

Goals & Objectives

To increase the number of external users and the number of analyses conducted by the Thermal Analysis Lab so that the funds generated from these services will increase by 15% each year. This will allow the Lab to support the training of graduate and undergraduate students in the use of modern thermal analysis instrumentation, and provide funds for the repair and replacement of equipment as needed.

Capabilities & Services

The WKU Thermal Analysis Laboratory is one of the most well-equipped academic centers for thermal analysis of materials in the United States. A large variety of modern scientific instruments are available for the study of the behavior of materials as a function of a change in temperature. These instruments are available to University faculty and students to support their research efforts, and analyses are run for external clients in support of local, regional and national economic development. Fees collected for services provided support all of the expenses of the Lab. Major Instrumentation: Thermogravimetric Analysis High-Resolution/Modulated Thermogravimetric Analysis High-Pressure Thermogravimetric Analysis Sorption Analysis Differential Scanning Calorimetry Modulated Differential Scanning Calorimetry High-Pressure Differential Scanning Calorimetry Simultaneous Differential Scanning Calorimetry-Thermogravimetric Analysis Evolved Gas Analysis (TG-FTIR, TG-MS, and TG-FTIR-MS) Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Pyroprobe-GC/MS Analysis Dynamic Mechanical Analysis Thermomechanical Analysis Dielectric Analysis Micro-Thermal Analysis Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy Optical Microscopy X-Ray Diffraction Applications: Formulation and optimization Materials selection Contaminant identification Application development End-use performance prediction Competitive product evaluation Vendor certification Incoming/outgoing materials consistency Process optimization Finished product performance Troubleshooting


All of the funding for the center is provided by fees collected for analyses conducted by the Thermal Analysis Laboratory.



Thermal Analysis Laboratory Staff


For Students 

Revenue brought into the laboratory by service work is used for students’ salaries. The Thermal Lab has provided part-time employment to thirty undergraduate students and forty-five M.S. and Ph.D. students. The transition from an academic laboratory setting to an industrial research setting can be difficult. A large number of students enter industry after obtaining degrees and working in the Thermal Analysis Lab, and the project-based curricula of the Lab involving partnerships with universities and industry eases the transition and increases the probability of our young professionals’ success. By partnering with local industries, we are able to participate in challenging research projects that are associated with cutting edge technology.

For Faculty

The advanced instrumentation located in the Thermal Analysis Lab is available to WKU faculty and their research students to support their research programs. Training and student supervision in the use of the instrumentation is provided by the Lab staff. The presence of the Thermal Analysis Laboratory makes faculty more competitive in obtaining external grant funding, provides more opportunities for partnering with industrial research programs, and relieves faculty of the expense and time required to obtain and maintain advanced scientific instruments.

For the Community

Since it was established in 1986, the Thermal Analysis Laboratory has conducted analyses for over 300 different companies, universities, and governmental agencies in over 30 states. Currently, approximately 80% of the studies conducted by the Lab are for local and regional companies, representing a significant contribution to the recruitment and success of technology based enterprises in the region.

Cooperation with governmental organizations has included collaborations with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, the United States Navy—Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and NASA. The research with the United States Air Force involved determination of the thermal stability of organically modified layered silicates and a mapping of the thermal decomposition kinetics of these materials. The Thermal Analysis Lab used evolved gas analysis to identify combustion products of materials that were to be used on submarines to determine what potential hazards these materials may pose. The work with NASA focused on the modification of single-wall carbon nanotubes to enhance dispersion and degradation studies of the modified nanotubes.
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Over the past 30 years, the thermal analysis group has presented over 80 papers at the North American Thermal Analysis Society (NATAS) annual conferences. In the past, the Thermal Lab organized an annual thermal analysis short course focused on TGA and DSC. The Thermal Lab also organized other thermal analysis symposia, including the 2nd International Symposium on Micro-Thermal Analysis at WKU and the 2013 National NATAS Meeting. These meetings featured talks by invited speakers, poster presentations by WKU students, and attracted participants from around the world.

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For more information about the Thermal Analysis Laboratory, visit

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