Global Sources
EE Times-India
Stay in touch with EE Times India
EE Times-India > Sensors/MEMS

Examining types of temperature sensors

Posted: 07 Mar 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:thermocouples  thermistors  resistance-temperature-detectors  RTDs  temperature sensors 

From thermocouples and thermistors to resistance-temperature-detectors (RTDs), temperature sensors are varied and ubiquitous, but it would be wise not to take them for granted. Each type comes with its own set of inherent pros and cons in terms of cost, reliability, linearity, and ease of use. In this feature we will take you through some classics, while also updating you on the state of the art, how to make best of them, and a good example or two of temperature sensor and silicon integration.

Temperature sensors really are everywhere: used in automotive, infrastructure, industrial, military/aerospace, consumer electronics, medical, transportation, power, process control, petro-chemical, and geo-physical, agriculture, and communications applications. When used in combination with other sensors like strain and pressure sensors, they're making the applications they serve more intelligent, safer, and more reliable. In many systems, temperature monitoring and control is fundamental.

By far, the biggest challenge designers face when using temperature sensors is how and where the sensor is placed with respect to the object or environment being measured (the measurand). Even the type of package and how it is mounted can make a difference between satisfactory and unsatisfactory measurements. With signal levels so low, losses in the connecting wires are but one of the issues to be overcome, but more on that in upcoming features.

In the meantime, one popular type of temperature sensor is the thermocouple, and for good reason. No other temperature sensor can rival it in terms of its wide-ranging temperature sensing ability of minus hundreds of°C to nearly 2000°C. It is also rugged and can withstand harsh environments.

But it's also highly non-linear and requires the use of significant linearisation algorithms. It also produces very small output voltages of tens ofµV/°C, requiring the use of analogue amplification, and is susceptible to noise which means signal conditioning is required. And it is fairly accurate provided that accurate correct cold-junction compensation (CJC) and signal conditioning is provided. Experts agree that the signal-conditioning aspect of a thermocouple is a major challenge for temperature sensor users.

Fortunately, there are many inexpensive monolithic ICs on the market that help, like the Analog Devices ADT7420/ADT7320 (I2C/SPI outputs). It allows thermocouple cold-junction compensation with accuracy within ±0.25°C (figure 1). Together with Analog Devices' AD849x series of precision amplifiers, it provides convenient analogue CJC for modern thermocouple sensor types.

Figure 1: Analog Devices' ADT7420/7320 16bit digital temperature sensor with I2C/SPI outputs allows thermocouple cold-junction compensation with accuracy within ±0.25°C. (Source: Analog Devices)

The ADT7320/7420 16bit sensors also have the added advantage of not requiring calibration. Recommended for new designs by ADI, start with the EVAL-ADT7420 evaluation board.

Thermistors: Low cost, but keep one eye on current
Another popular temperature sensor type is the thermistor, not least because of it's very low cost (a few cents in large quantities). This thin-film sensor is quite small (a bead of about 4 mm in diameter with two leads) and it suits applications like over- and under-voltage shutdown instrumentation. It is highly sensitive and accurate, rugged, and flexible enough to be fitted into a variety of packages.

1 • 2 Next Page Last Page

Comment on "Examining types of temperature senso..."
*  You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.


Go to top             Connect on Facebook      Follow us on Twitter      Follow us on Orkut

Back to Top