Differential scanning calorimetry is a technique to measure the relationship between the heat flow of the sample and the reference material or the heating power lost to the sample and the reference material and the temperature or time under a certain temperature controlled atmosphere. The instrument that makes this measurement is called a differential scanning calorimeter (DSC). Scanning refers to the process of the sample undergoing a programmed temperature. Taking an inert substance that has no thermal effect in the test temperature or time range as a reference, the heat flow of the sample is compared with the reference to determine its thermal behavior, which is the meaning of differential. Measuring the difference in heat flow (or power) between a sample and a reference is much more accurate than measuring only the absolute change in heat flow of a sample.
differential thermal analysis (DTA) is a technique that only measures the temperature difference between a sample and an inert reference under programmed temperature control. DTA is a qualitative measurement technique that has been around since the end of the 19th century. But it was not until 1955 that Boersma built a quantitative DTA measuring unit, leading to the development of the heat flux (aka heat flow) type DSC. Boersma's paper is considered to mark the birth of the thermal flux DSC.
According to the measurement principle, DSC instruments can be divided into heat flux (heat flow) type and power compensation type.