An extension of the flash method is described that measures simultaneously the three orthogonal components of thermal diffusivity in specimens of moderate thermal diffusivity. Only part of the top face of the specimen is illuminated and the temperature histories are recorded at three points on the bottom face. A Marquardt parameter estimation algorithm coupled with a finite difference model of the diffusion equation analyzes these temperature histories to determine the components of thermal diffusivity. Illustrative measurements in stainless steel, glass, and PVC demonstrate that accurate three-dimensional thermal diffusivity measurements can be made in this way. The in-plane components of thermal diffusivity of as-supplied PVC sheet are shown to be about 20 percent greater than the out-of-plane component. This anisotropy appears to be due to the manufacturing process and exemplifies the need for such measurements. [S0022-1481(00)70101-0]

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