Quartz Crystal Microbalances for Microscale Thermogravimetric Analysis

A new method for analyzing the chemical purity and consistency of microscale samples with a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor platform is described. The QCM is used to monitor submicrogram changes in the mass of a deposited thin film as a function of temperature, in a manner similar to that of a conventional thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA). Results correlated well with TGA measurements for a wide range of representative materials, including organic compounds, ionic detergents, oxidizing and inert powders, carbon nanotubes, and various mixtures of these samples. In each case, the sample mass was on the order of a few micrograms, compared to the need for several milligrams for conventional TGA analysis. This work illustrates the effectiveness of this approach for analysis of nanoparticles, thin films, and highly purified specimens on the microgram scale.