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Instrumentation 2

Lecture 1
Temperature Sensors
Last Semester..
We looked at
– Ohms Law, Energy and Power
– Resistivity, Capacitance & Inductance
– Series and Parallel Resistance
– AC Voltage/Current
– Measurement Systems
– Semiconductors
– Sensors – Displacement, Pressure and Light

This Semester...
• We will look at:
– Temperature Sensors
– Loading Effects
– Introduction to Control Systems
– Op-amp Circuits
– Transistors
– 55 Timers
– Motors

This lecture…..
• What is a Temperature Sensor?

• Thermostat
• Thermistor
• RTDs
What is a Temperature Sensor?
• A device that is used to monitor temperature changes

• They vary from simple ON/OFF thermostatic devices

which control a domestic hot water heating system to
highly sensitive semiconductor types that can control
complex process control furnace plants

• There are 2 temperature sensing methods:

– Contact: Requires direct contact with the object/media that is being
– Non-Contact: These use convection and radiation to monitor changes
in temperature
Sensor Examples
• Examples of Contact:
– Bimetallic Thermostat
– Thermistors
– Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs)
– Thermocouples
– Thermometers

• Examples of Non Contact:

– Pyrometer
Contact vs. Non-contact
Contact Advantages Non Contact Advantages
Relatively rugged Ideal for measuring objects in
Economical Does not interfere with process
Wide application range Faster response
(ms compared to s)
Relatively accurate Can sense temperature of
irregular shaped objects
Simple to apply Will not deface or contaminate
Will not act as a heatsink
Contact vs. Non-contact
Contact Disadvantages Non Contact Disadvantages
Requires physical contact, Will not measure gas temperatures
may damage or contaminate
Can cause wear on rotary Emissivity variations (emissivity of the
components surface of a material is its effectiveness in
emitting energy as thermal radiation)
Slow to respond relative to Ambient temperature restrictions (ambient
non-contact sensing temperature is influenced e.g. the weather
outside, insulation in the room, what or
who is inside the room, and the use of
heating and cooling systems)
Field-of-view (spot size) restrictions
Acts as a heatsink; alters Indicated temperature affected by
readings on small objects environmental conditions (dust, smoke,
Temperature sensors
• The two basic types of contact or even
non-contact temperature sensors can also
be sub-divided into the following three
groups of sensors
– Electro-mechanical
– Resistive
– Electronic
The Thermostat
• Contact type - electro-mechanical sensor/switch
• It consists of two different metals (e.g. nickel,
copper, tungsten, aluminium) that are bonded
together back-to-back to form a Bi-metallic strip
The Thermostat
• When the thermostat is cold the contacts are closed and
current passes through the thermostat
• When it gets hot, one metal expands more than the other
and the bonded bi-metallic strip bends, thereby opening
the contacts & preventing the current from flowing
Opening/Closing action
• There are two opening/closing actions that can be
– The “snap-action” type produces an instantaneous
“ON/OFF” or “OFF/ON” type action on the electrical
contacts at a set temperature point
– The slower “creep-action” type gradually changes their
position as the temperature changes. These typically
consist of a bi-metallic coil or spiral that slowly unwinds
or coils-up as the temperature changes
• Creeper type bi-metallic strips are more sensitive to
temperature changes than the standard snap ON/OFF types
as the strip is longer and thinner
• Snap-action type:
– Commonly used for controlling the temperature set
point of ovens, irons, immersion hot water tanks and
they can also be found on walls to control the
domestic heating system
• Creeper type:
– More sensitive  making them ideal for use in
temperature gauges and dials etc.
Advantages and Disadvantages
• Advantages:
– Cheap
– Operable over a wide temperature range

• Disadvantages:
– snap-action: large hysteresis range (~ +/-2°C)
• Thermistor : THERM-ally sensitive res-ISTOR
• A thermistor is a special type of resistor
which changes its physical resistance
when exposed to changes in temperature
• A Thermistor is a semiconducting ceramic
composed of mixtures of several metal oxides
(oxides of nickel, manganese or cobalt coated
in glass) makes them easily damaged
• Their main advantage over snap-action
types is their speed of response to any
changes in temp, accuracy and repeatability
Two Types of Thermistor
1. Negative Temperature Coefficient of
Resistance (NTC)
– that is their resistance value goes DOWN with an
increase in the temperature
– More Common Type
2. Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC)
– Their resistance value goes UP with an increase
in temperature
Thermistor Ratings
• Thermistors are passive resistive devices i.e. we need to
pass a current through it to produce a measurable
voltage output
• Thermistors are rated by their
– Resistive value at room temperature
– Time constant (the time to react to the temperature change)
– Power rating with respect to the current flowing through them
• Like resistors, they are available with resistance values
from MΩ to just a few Ohms,
• For sensing purposes though, values in the kW are
generally used
Response of an NTC thermistor
• Thermistor’s are non-linear devices that alter their
resistance characteristics with temperature
• The thermistor has an exponential change with
Response of an NTC thermistor
• The standard formula for NTC thermistor
resistance as a function of temperature is given

– Where
• R25C is the thermistor's nominal resistance at room temp
• β (beta) is the thermistor's material constant in K
• T is the thermistor's actual temperature in Celsius

(based on R = Ae(β/T))
How a thermistor is used
• In general, it is quite difficult to work with non-
linear responses; a linear response is the
preferred output
• Fortunately, with NTCs, there are two easy
techniques to linearize the thermistor's
behaviour. These are
1. Resistance mode
2. Voltage mode
1. Resistance Mode Linearization
• A normal resistor is placed in parallel with the NTC
thermistor - this has the effect of linearizing the combined
circuit's resistance
• If the resistor's value = the thermistor's resistance at room
temp (R25C), then the region of relatively linear resistance
will be symmetrical around room temperature
2. Voltage Mode Linearization
• Here, the NTC thermistor is connected in series
with a normal resistor to form a voltage-divider
• The network gives a voltage output that is now
linear over temperature
Voltage Mode Linearization

Note: lower values of β produce linear results over a wider

temperature range, while higher values of β produce
increased sensitivity over a narrower temperature range
Worked Example 14.1
The following thermistor has a resistance value of 10KΩ at
25oC and a resistance value of 100Ω at 100oC. Calculate
the voltage drop across the thermistor and hence its output
voltage for both temperatures when connected in series
with a 1kΩ resistor across a 12v power supply.
• Used in combination with microcomputers as
temperature sensors
• Used to cancel temperature effects on LCD display
– By applying a temperature-dependent bias voltage, an LCD's
temperature effects can be automatically cancelled to maintain
constant contrast over a wide temperature range
• Also used as electrical circuit components
– for temperature compensation
– voltage regulation
– circuit protection
Advantages & Disadvantages
• Low-cost
• Readily available through a variety of suppliers
• Small surface-mount packaging
• Straightforward to apply to your circuit

• Non-linear response –so needs signal conditioning
• Easy to damage
Exercise for you to do in your own time:
Consider the LCD Display. How is a
thermistor used here for temperature
Thermistor Videos

• What is a thermistor

• How to make a thermistor output linear

• Contact - electrical resistance temperature sensor
• RTD’s are precision temperature sensors made from
high-purity conducting metals (e.g. platinum, copper or
nickel) wound into a coil and whose electrical resistance
changes as a function of temperature, similar to that of
the thermistor
• Also available are thin-film RTD’s. These devices have a
thin film of platinum paste deposited onto a white
ceramic substrate
• RTDs have positive temperature coefficients (PTC); and
their output is extremely linear (unlike the thermistor)
• The disadvantage of standard RTDs is that they have
poor thermal sensitivity; i.e. a change in temperature only
produces a very small output change for example, 1Ω/oC
• An alternative is the Platinum Resistance
Thermometer (PRT‘s) – i.e. an RTD made from platinum
– The most commonly available of them all is the Pt100 sensor
– It has a standard resistance value of 100Ω at 0oC
– The downside is that Platinum is expensive and one of the main
disadvantages of this type of device is its cost
RTD specs
• RTD’s are also passive resistive devices
– By passing a constant current through the temperature sensor
one obtains an output voltage that increases linearly with
• A typical RTD has a base resistance of about 100Ω at
0oC, increasing to about 140Ω at 100oC
• Operating temperatures range between -200 to +600oC.
RTD as part of a Bridge Cct
• Because the RTD is a resistive device, we need to pass a
current through an RTD and monitor the resulting voltage
to measured temperature.
• However, variations in resistance due to self heat of the
wires as the current flows through it (I2R) causes errors
• To avoid this, the RTD is usually connected into a
Whetstone Bridge network which has additional
connecting wires for lead-compensation and/or connection
to a constant current source
Advantages and Disadvantages
• Advantages:
– The most accurate temperature sensors
– Excellent stability
– Excellent repeatability
– Immune to electrical noise
– Resistant to contamination under 660°C

• Disadvantages:
– Low sensitivity of standard devices
– High cost of Platinum versions (PRTs)
– Affected by shock and vibration
Application Example
• RTD Measurements for Roaster Control
• Producing a rich, aromatic cup of java requires a blend
of art, science, and good coffee beans.
• A critical step is the roasting of the beans. Roasting
brings out the aroma and flavour in a manner highly
dependent on timing and temperatures.
• Good roasting techniques can produce quite acceptable
results from relatively low-grade beans; bad roasting can
produce quite dreadful results from the best high-grade
• The critical variable is the temperature of the beans
Application Example cont’d
• A thermal probe measuring the temperature within the
coffee beans provides the most important feedback
• The probe must withstand the pounding as beans are
tumbled. Because of its rugged sheath, this kind of probe
will not respond quickly, but the temperature profile will
not change very fast either, and a reasonable balance is
• An RTD probe is ideal here because it is reliable,
accurate, stable, easy to use, and well suited for an
operating temperature range of 100 to 500 degrees F
Further Applications
• Air conditioning and refrigeration servicing
• Food Processing
• Stoves and grills
• Plastics processing
• Petrochemical processing
• Micro electronics
• Air, gas and liquid temperature measurement
• Exhaust gas temperature measurement
The Thermocouple
• The Thermocouple is by far the most commonly used
type of all the temperature sensor types
• They are popular due to their simplicity, ease of use,
small size and their speed of response to changes in
• Thermocouples also have the widest temperature range
of all the temperature sensors from below -200oC to well
over 2000oC.
The Thermocouple
• A thermocouple is comprised of at least two dissimilar
metals (e.g. copper and constantan) joined together to
form two junctions
• One is connected to the body whose temperature is to
be measured; this is the hot or measuring junction
• The other junction is connected to a body of known
temperature; this is the cold or reference junction
• When the two junctions are at different temperatures, a
voltage is developed across the junction
• Therefore the thermocouple measures the unknown
temperature with reference to the reference temperature
The Thermocouple
• When fused together the junction of the two dissimilar
metals such as copper and constantan produces a
“thermo-electric” effect which gives a constant potential
difference of only a few millivolts (mV) between them
The Thermocouple
• However, when the junctions are connected within a
circuit and are both at different temperatures a voltage
output will be detected relative to the difference in
temperature between the two junctions, V1 - V2
• This difference in voltage will increase with temperature
until the junctions peak voltage level is reached
(peak voltage determined by metals used)
• The voltage difference between the two junctions is
called the “Seebeck effect” as a temperature gradient is
generated along the conducting wires, thus producing an
The Seebeck effect
• The Seebeck effect is a phenomenon in which a
temperature difference between two dissimilar electrical
conductors or semiconductors produces a voltage
difference between the two substances.
• When heat is applied to one of the two conductors or
semiconductors, heated electrons flow toward the cooler
one. If the pair is connected through an electrical circuit,
direct current (DC) flows through that circuit
• The voltages produced by Seebeck effect are small,
usually only a few microvolts, and therefore requires
careful amplification
Choosing a Thermocouple

• Thermocouples can be made from a variety of different

materials enabling extreme temperatures of
between -200oC to over +2000oC to be measured.
• With such a large choice of materials and temperature
range, internationally recognised standards have been
developed complete with thermocouple colour codes to
allow the user to choose the correct thermocouple
sensor for a particular application
– See next slide for British example
Choosing a Thermocouple
Code British
Conductors (+/-) Sensitivity
Type BS 1843:1952

Nickel Chromium /
E -200 to 900oC
J Iron / Constantan 0 to 750oC
Nickel Chromium /
K -200 to 1250oC
Nickel Aluminium
N Nicrosil / Nisil 0 to 1250oC

T Copper / Constantan -200 to 350oC

Copper / Copper Nickel

U Compensating for 0 to 1450oC
"S" and "R"

Note: J, K and T most Common

Advantages and Disadvantages
• Advantages:
– Capable of being used to measure temperatures up to 2600 oC
– The thermocouple junction may be grounded and brought into
direct contact with the material being measured.
– They are popular due to their simplicity, ease of use, small size
– Their rapid speed of response to changes in temperature
• Disadvantages:
– Requires two temperatures be measured, the hot and the cold.
– Potential sources of error, common Mode noise and the
materials of which thermocouple wires are made are not inert –
possibility of corrosion etc.
– Non linear ouput
– Tedious & Difficult calibration of thermocouples required
• Type K: ('general purpose' thermocouple)
– Testing temperatures associated with process plants e.g. chemical
production and petroleum refineries
– Testing of heating appliance safety
• Type J: (inert materials)
– Used to monitor temperatures of inert materials and in vacuum
applications. This type is susceptible to oxidisation so is not
recommended for damp conditions or low temp monitoring
– Hot processes including plastics and resin manufacture
• Type T: (food industry – high accuracy & good in moisture)
– Monitoring in food processing and production to identify potential
food safety hazards and comply with HACCP regulations
– Suitable for low temperature and cryogenic applications
Thermocouples video
• What is a thermocouple?

• Cold/Reference Junction Compensation

• Thermistor vs RTD vs Thermocouples