Review of Scientific Instruments vol:69 issue:6 pages:2452-2458
Photothermal techniques offer a nice tool for the determination of changes in thermal parameters of different types of samples. Using a very thin pyroelectric transducer, a very simple and versatile ac calorimeter can be built. The described inverse pyroelectric technique allows high-resolution ac-calorimetric measurements of the temperature dependence of the specific heat capacity. Since measuring frequencies up to a few hertz can be used, which sire higher than in most alternative ac-calorimetric setups, noise can be reduced and measuring times shortened. With a small modification of the measurement cell, the determination of absolute specific hear. capacity and thermal conductivity values of liquid samples was achieved. Comparison of the frequency response of the system with and without a solid thermal load in the neighborhood of the sample yields data with an accuracy of about 5% and 10% for specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity, respectively. If necessary, absolute values of specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity can also be obtained by making contact between a (solid) thermal load and the liquid. A pure ac-calorimetric operation is then no longer possible, thus restricting this mode of operation to homogeneous or to properly aligned anisotropic liquids. (C) 1998 American Institute of Physics. [S0034-6748(98)00906-X].