Thermogravimetric analysis or thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) is a method of thermal analysis in which the mass of a sample is measured over time as the temperature changes. This measurement provides information about physical phenomena, such as phase transitions, absorption, adsorption and desorption; as well as chemical phenomena including chemisorptions, thermal decomposition, and solid-gas reactions (e.g., oxidation or reduction). The temperature is generally increased at constant rate (or for some applications the temperature is controlled for a constant mass loss) to incur a thermal reaction. The thermal reaction may occur under a variety of atmospheres including: ambient air, vacuum, inert gas, oxidizing/reducing gases, corrosive gases, carburizing gases, vapors of liquids or "self-generated atmosphere"; as well as a variety of pressures including: a high vacuum, high pressure, constant pressure, or a controlled pressure. The thermogravimetric data collected from a thermal reaction is compiled into a plot of mass or percentage of initial mass on the y axis versus either temperature or time on the x-axis. This plot, which is often smoothed, is referred to as a TGA curve. The first derivative of the TGA curve (the DTG curve) may be plotted to determine inflection points useful for in-depth interpretations as well as differential thermal analysis. A TGA can be used for materials characterization through analysis of characteristic decomposition patterns. It is an especially useful technique for the study of polymeric materials, including thermoplastics, thermosets, elastomers, composites, plastic films, fibers, coatings, paints, and fuels.
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