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Chemistry International
Vol. 24, No. 2
March 2002


Highlights from Pure and Applied Chemistry

Standards in Isothermal Microcalorimetry (IUPAC Technical Report)

by Ingemar Wadsö and Robert N. Goldberg
Pure and Applied Chemistry Vol. 73, No. 10, pp. 1625-1639 (2001)

Isothermal microcalorimetric techniques have been much improved during the past decades, and several types of instruments are commercially available. Application areas include, for example, ligand binding studies, dissolution and sorption measurements, estimation of the stability of chemical substances and technical products, and measurements of metabolic reactions in living cellular systems.

Most isothermal microcalorimeters are calibrated by the release of heat in an electrical heater positioned in the calorimetric vessel or in its close proximity. However, in some cases it is difficult to conduct electrical calibration experiments, which will closely mimic the heat flow pattern of the process or reaction under investigation. This can lead to a significant error in the calibration value and, in some cases, the use of some chemical calibration would therefore be preferable. Regardless of which calibration technique is used, it is often desirable to quantitatively control the overall performance of an instrument by use of a suitable test reaction. Simple and reliable test reactions are also very suitable for the training of experimenters. In order to allow a close comparison between results from chemical calibrations or test experiments and results from a calorimetric investigation, it is important to have many different chemical calibration and test reactions available.

In this report, guidelines are presented on the use of standardized chemical test and calibration reactions suitable for use in different areas of isothermal microcalorimetry. The focus is on reactions suitable for use under ambient conditions. Further, a standardized terminology in describing the characteristics of isothermal microcalorimeters is proposed. �Nanocalorimeters,� usually indicating calorimeters with a detection limit approaching the nanowatt range, are in this report not distinguished from �microcalorimeters.�

The Task Group responsible for the project was: I. Wads� (Chairman), A. E. Beezer, R. N. Goldberg, G. Olofsson, K. Murphy, J. Rouquerol and J. Sipowska.





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