What is a Certified Reference Material?

Engineering Analytics Laboratories What is a Certified Reference Material?

ICTAC Certified Reference Material vs. Certified Reference Material vs. NIST Certified Reference Material vs. Reference Material

A primary OEM uses the ICTAC moniker on its calibration standard products, and this, truly, makes their products sound superior to their competitors. Technically, their product is superior, but not because of the ICTAC label.

For more information, continue reading below:


What is the ICTAC? This is the International Confederation of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, and you can find their website at ICTAC.org. This organization allows for collaboration and contributions from all individual, national, and regional thermal analysis and calorimetric groups and societies. The ICTAC is not in itself a governing or qualifying body such as ISO or NIST.

Within the thermal analysis community, the ICTAC has identified 6 materials with Curie Points which will allow for a Thermogravimetric Analyzer’s full range of use by calibration. Those materials are:

These 6 materials will allow for the testing of just about every material using a standard Thermogravimetric Analyzer (TGA). This list, though, is not all of the materials with literature established Curie points. See our Shop for additional calibration standards.

Certified Reference Standard

For the OEM mentioned above, the certified materials are manufactured following NIST procedures, and the resulting material has a purity of 99.999+%. For this reason, the cost of these standards is quite high, and guarantees a superior product with guaranteed properties.

When to purchase a Certified Reference Standard:

When to purchase a Reference Standard:

If the above sections have not answered your question, please reach out to EA Labs, and we will help you determine the best material for your needs.

Reference Standard

General use reference standards are high purity materials, and most will have a purity greater than 99.9%. Some will have a purity as high as 99.999% due to the ease of manufacturing a raw material with such a high purity. Some reference materials will be lower in purity, and this is due to the organic nature of the material, such as Adamantane, which makes manufacturing or purification efforts beyond 99% futile due to costs.

Reference Standards are useful in about 95% of all testing via thermal analysis techniques such as Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA).

Due to the intrinsic system errors of base model thermal analysis equipment, the extra purity of a Certified Reference Standard has little to no impact on the precision or accuracy on the calibration of a unit. As it stands, most units will provide an accuracy to within 0.5 C of the specified property temperature, and several standards used in the industry actually have short ranges over which a property will exhibit itself, as reported by various literature sources. Because of the intrinsic system error, EA Labs Reference Standards yield the best cost to value ratio.