TCi Trident

1 instrument, 3 methods for thermal conductivity

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

The adage rings true in thermal conductivity characterization. It’s better to have options. Trident unleashes the power of three different transient methods with the ultimate toolbox for thermal conductivity measurement. MTPS, TPS and TLS all in one modular package. Choose the right tool for your samples. Choice is good.


Product description

Technique Overview :

Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS)

Fast, easy and highly accurate. A single-sided, “plug & play” sensor suitable for testing solids, liquids, powders and pastes. Offers maximum sample versatility. Conforms to ASTM D7984
Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS). Simple and Precise.

The MTPS method employs a single-sided sensor to directly measure thermal conductivity and effusivity of materials. The MTPS method has the highest precision, highest sensitivity, shortest test time, and is the easiest to use among all three techniques.

Principles of Operation

Trident’s primary sensor employs the Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS) technique in characterizing the thermal conductivity and effusivity of materials. It employs a single-sided, interfacial heat reflectance sensor that applies a momentary constant heat source to the sample. Typically, the measurement pulse is between 1 to 3 seconds. Thermal conductivity and effusivity are measured directly, providing a detailed overview of the heat transfer properties of the sample material.

How it works

  1. A known current is applied to the sensor’s spiral heating element, providing a small amount of heat.
  2. A guard ring surrounds the sensor coil to support a one-dimensional heat transfer into the sample. The applied current results in a rise in temperature at the interface between the sensor and the sample, which induces a change in the voltage drop of the sensor element.
  3. The rate of increase in the sensor voltage is used to determine the thermal properties of the sample. The voltage is factory-calibrated to temperature. The thermal conductivity is inversely proportional to the rate of increase in the temperature at the point of contact between the sensor and the sample. The voltage is used as a proxy for temperature and will rise more steeply when lower thermal conductivity materials (e.g. foam) are tested. Conversely, the voltage slope will be flatter for higher thermal conductivity materials (e.g. metal). With the C-Therm Trident, tabular thermal conductivity results are reported in real-time making thermal conductivity measurement fast and easy. No regression analysis is required.

Transient Line Source (TLS) Needle

The TLS method employs a needle probe to characterize the thermal conductivity of viscous and granular materials. It is the most robust sensor for thermal conductivity testing.

Principles of Operation

The Transient Line Source (TLS) technique operates in accordance with ASTM D5334, D5930 and IEEE Std 442-1981. Commonly referred to as needle probes, The TLS sensors provide a robust and efficient solution for measuring the thermal conductivity of granular materials, powders, polymer melts, soils, slurries, gels, and pastes.

This technique involves placing an electrically heated needle into a material. The heat flows out radially from the needle into the sample. During heating, the temperature difference between a thermocouple (T1) positioned in the middle of the heating wire, and a second thermocouple (T2) located at the tip of the needle is measured. By plotting this temperature difference versus the logarithm of time, thermal conductivity can be calculated. Typically, the measurement is on the order of 2-10 minutes.

How it works

    1. An internal platinum wire is heated electrically – providing a known amount of heat per unit length.
    2. The temperatures are measured at locations T1 (located in the middle of heating wire) and T2 (located at the tip of the needle).
    3. The rate of increase in temperature as a function of logarithmic time is then used to calculate the thermal conductivity of the sample. The slope of the line is inversely proportional to the thermal conductivity of the sample. The temperature will rise more steeply when lower thermal conductivity materials (e.g. powders) are tested.

Transient Plane Source (TPS) Flex

The TPS method employs a double-sided hot disc sensor to simultaneously determine thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and specific heat capacity of materials from a single measurement. TPS provides the user the greatest flexibility and control over experimental parameters and avoids the use of any contact agents. Recommended for more experienced users.

Principles of Operation

The C-Therm Trident Thermal Conductivity Analyzer Flex configuration employs the Transient Plane Source (TPS) technique in characterizing the thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and specific heat capacity of materials, conforming to ISO standard 22007-2.

How It Works

    1. Power is applied to the sensor’s spiral heating element, providing a small amount of heat. This results in a rise in temperature at the interface between the sensor and the sample, which induces a voltage change across the sensor element.
    2. The results from the initial scouting run are used to estimate test time, power level, and ideal sensor size. The experiment is run with the new parameters. This may need to be repeated until the correct parameters are identified. Guidance is provided in the ISO 22007-2.2
    3. The test result is a plot of temperature vs time.
    4. The results are analyzed with an iterative solving procedure to generate thermal property data such as thermal diffusivity and thermal conductivity.


The C-Therm TECAS™ software is developed for the Trident system to control all 3 sensor types. The software is highly user-friendly and easy to navigate. It provides full data acquisition and analysis in one software.

Technical Specifications

Test MethodsMTPSTLS NeedleFlex TPS
Recommended applicationsAerogels, Automotive, Batteries, Composites, Insulation, Explosives, Geological, Liquids, Metals, Nanomaterials, Metal Hydrides, Nuclear, Phase Change Materials (PCMs), Polymers, Rubber, Thermal Interface Materials (TIMs), Thermoelectric

Suitable for lower viscosity fluids
Polymer Melts, Semi-Solids, & Soil.

Cement/Concrete, Porous Ceramics, & Polymers
Thermal Conductivity Range0 to 500 W/mK0.1 to 6 W/mK0.03 to 2000 W/mK
Thermal Diffusivity Range0 to 300 mm²/s*Not applicable0.01 to 1200 mm²/s
Heat Capacity RangeUp to 5MJ/m³K*Not applicable0.1 to 5 MJ/m³K
Thermal Effusivity Range5 to 40,000 Ws½/m²KNot applicableNot applicable
Temperature Range-50º to 200ºC
With option to extend to 500ºC
-55º to 200ºC-50º to 300ºC
PrecisionBetter than 1%Better than 3%Better than 2%
AccuracyBetter than 5%Stated for °20C
± (3% + 0.02) W/mK
Better than 5%
Test Time0.8 to 3 seconds1 to 4 minutes10 to 180 seconds
Sensor SizeSolids:
Min. diameter of 18 mm Min. thickness is dependent on the thermal conductivity. For materials under 1 W/mK a min. thickness of 1 mm is suggested

Liquids & Powders: 1,25 ml
80 mLRequires two identical samples.
The diameter of the samples should be 2.5X sensor diameter (e.g. 6 mm sensor requires sample diameter of 15 mm)
Thickness should be at minimum the same diameter as the sensor (e.g. 6 mm sensor requires 6 mm thick samples.
Maximum Sample SizeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
International StandardsASTM D7984

ASTM D5334, D5930, and IEEE 442-1981

ISO 22007-2



Tenney Jr. Thermal Chamber

The Trident offers users the flexibility to operate the sensor in various environmental enclosures (including thermal chambers and glove boxes). C-Therm recommends the Tenney Jr. Thermal Chamber and offers the product as an available accessory with the TRIDENT Thermal Conductivity Analyzer. The thermal chamber can be controlled through the TECAS software

TCi Compression Test Accessory (CTA)

The Compression Test Accessory (CTA) is engineered and designed to enable users to precisely control the level of compression or compaction of a sample in characterizing the material’s thermal conductivity. The CTA is ideal for applications in the fields of advanced textiles, fabrics and thermal interface materials (TIMs) where representative thermal conductivity data requires precise control over the sample’s compaction. The CTA is compatible with solids, pastes, greases and powder sample formats.

TCi Small-Volume Test Kit

Your perfect accessory for testing liquids. The Small-Volume Test Kit was originally developed with the US Navy Surface Warfare Division specifically for testing energetic emulsions and powders. The effectiveness of the accessory in reducing convection effect on testing samples make it ideal for characterizing the thermal conductivity of liquid samples regardless of the viscosity. The SVTK is commonly applied in testing nano and heat transfer fluids, as well as emulsions.

High Pressure Cell
C-Therm offers a range of high pressure cells to safely characterize the thermal conductivity of samples under elevated pressure environments up to 2000 PSI (~138bar). C-Therm’s HPCs are popular with researchers in the Oil & Gas, Nuclear and Fuel Cell industries.

Reference Materials

As an option, C-Therm can provide a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Standard Reference Material for verifying the accuracy of the system.

SRM 1453, Expanded Polystyrene Board.


  1. Polymers
  2. Nanomaterials
  3. Heat transfer fluids
  4. Geological
  5. Phase change materials
  6. Insulation
  7. Automotive
  8. Building materials
  9. Metals
  10. Thermal interface materials-Dielectric
  11. Oil-Gas

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