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Food Science Thermal Analysis Laboratory
Thermal analysis is group of techniques in which a physical property (e.g. heat content, rigidity, weight, volume) of a sample is monitored against time or temperature while the temperature of the sample, in a specified atmosphere, is programmed.

Our equipment includes a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC), a dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA), and an isothermal titration calorimeter (ITC). The equipment is available for use by campus personnel for a small fee and arrangements can be made for outside contract work.

Projects we have performed in this lab include determining gelatinization temperatures of starches, temperatures and enthalpies of protein unfolding, melting of processed cheese products, glass transitions in caramels and dried sweet potatoes, melting and oxidation of lipids, and measuring specific heat for a variety of food products.


Penny Amato

Penny has been the manager of the Thermal Analysis Lab for over 10 years. She regularly attends Thermal Analysis short courses and meetings. She is a member of the North American Thermal Analysis Society (NATAS) and the International Confederation of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry (ICTAC). Her role in the laboratory is to conduct experiments and/or train new users in thermal analysis techniques primarily using differential scanning calorimetry but also using dynamic mechanical analysis and titration calorimetry. She assists in research projects by developing the appropriate sample preparation, test methods and running conditions to achieve the research objectives.

Brian Farkas

Dr. Farkas is a food engineer and the principal investigator of the Thermal Analysis Lab. His main research interest is transport phenomena in foods and their effect on food safety, quality, and processing efficiency. His research uses the thermal properties of foods and packaging materials to simulate and optimize a multitude of heating related operations including frying, microwave cooking, convection heating, CO2 cooling, freezing, thawing, and drying.

Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC)

LakendraDifferential Scanning Calorimetry is a technique used to study heat (energy) released or absorbed by materials when subjected to a temperature program.

Perkin Elmer DSC 7 with Pyris Software

Temperature Capabilities: -70ºC to ~500
Calorimetric Precision: ± 2%
Sensitivity: ·H · 0.1 J/g; Peak Height · 0.1 mWatt

Typical Measurements made with the DSC

Melting temperature and heat of fusion (Oils/Fats/Lipids, sugars, plastics, water)
Crystallization temperature and heat of crystallization
Protein Denaturation-- (Fairly concentrated samples only)
Starch Gelatinization
Specific Heat
Glass Transition
“Bound” Water
Oxidation of Oils

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)

Dynamic mechanical analysis is a technique to measure a sample’s physical response to an oscillating force when subjected to a temperature program. It is generally used for solid or semi-solid samples. It can also be run at constant stress, constant strain and/or constant temperature.

PennyPerkin Elmer DMA 7 with Pyris Software

Temperature Capabilities: -40ºC to ~200
Minimum Force · N; Maximum Force · N

Measuring Systems

Parallel Plate
3-Point Bending
Single Cantilever
Dual Cantilever

Testing Methods

Thermomechanical Analysis (Static Stress)
Stress/Strain Curves
Stress Relaxation
Creep Recovery
Rigidity/Temperature scans
Frequency Scans

Typical Measurements obtained with DMA

Yield Point, Shrinkage, Expansion, Strength
Phase transitions (Curing, Gel Point, Rubber/Glass Transitions, Leathery Region)
Viscoelasticity, Toughness, Ductility, Damping
Plateau Regions, Master Curves

Isothermal Titration Calorimeter (ITC)

PennyIsothermal titration calorimetry is used in thermodynamic analyses of macromolecular interactions in solutions. The measured heat, either absorbed or released upon chemical binding is used to calculate binding constants, enthalpy, entropy, and stoichiometry of the reaction.

*Microcal Omega Reaction Cell with Origin Software

Sensitivity typically in the micromolar range for proteins
Sample cell volume is approximately 1.3 mL
Injection syringe contains about 290 µL of titrant.
Temperature range of 2 ºC to 90 ºC

* This is an older instrument that was donated to the lab several years ago. We have not used it yet, but are very interested in helping anyone who has an interest in getting it running.

Typical Uses for ITC

Ligand binding
Enzyme Kinetics
Characterization of molecular structure and function

Contact Information

Food Science Thermal Analysis Laboratory
Room 231 Schaub Hall
Campus Box 7624
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7624

Phone: (919) 513-2097
Email: Penny Amato (

Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27695
(919) 515-2951