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Engr Haider-e-Karar
Teaching Assistant
Mehran University of Engineering and Technology
Engr Haider-e-Karar

Temperature Sensors
Sensors which are used to measure the thermal energy
are called Temperature Sensors
Temperature is a very critical quantity to be considered
in many electronic applications, such as manufacturing
of semiconductor devices etc.
Moreover, in many applications robots are used where
high temperatures are involved. Such robots have the
temperature sensors, to measure the desired
temperature ratings
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Temperature Sensors
Some of the basic thermo sensitive devices are:
Resistance temperature detectors

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Thermocouple is generally used as a primary transducer
for temperature measurement in which changes in
temperature are directly converted into an electrical
The thermocouple behavior can be explained on the
basis of thermoelectric phenomena namely Seebeck
effect, Peltier effect and Thompson effect.

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Thermoelectric Phenomena
In 1821, the great scientist Prof. Seebeck discovered
that if the two wires of different metals are joined
together forming closed circuit and if the two junctions
formed are at different temperatures, an electric current
flows around a closed circuit.
This is called Seedbeck effect
He also observed that if the two metals used are copper
and iron, then the current flows from copper to iron at
hot junction and from iron to copper at cold junction

If the copper cut, the e.m.f appears across the

open circuit as shown in the Fig. This e.m.f. is commonly
known as Seebeck e.m.f. This Seebeck e.m.f. is
proportional to the difference in the temperatures of the
two junctions.

Peltier Effect
In 1824, Prof. Peltier discovered a reverse phenomenon.
He observed that when two dissimilar metals form two
junctions as show in the Fig. and if an external e.m.f. is
connected as shown, then the current flows through the
When current flows through copper-iron junction (T1)
from copper to iron, heat is absorbed making junction
When current flows through iron-copper
junction (T1) from iron to copper, heat is
Peltier Effect

liberated making T2 junction cold

Thermocouple Construction
A thermocouple is the most commonly used
thermoelectric transducer. Thermocouple is made up of
two wires of dissimilar metals joined together to form
two junctions as shown in the Fig.

Thermocouple Working
Out of two junctions T1 and T2, T2 is kept at constant reference
temperature. Hence it is referred as cold junction
While the temperature changes to be measured are
subjected to the junction T1 which is referred as hot junction
When the hot junction temperature is greater as compared to
the cold junction, e.m.f. is generated due to the temperature

Thermocouple Working
The magnitude of the e.m.f. generated depends on the
material used for the wires and temperature difference
between the two junctions
The hot junction is sometimes called measuring junction
while the cold junction is called reference junction.

Advantages and Limitations of

1. The thermocouple is rugged in construction
2. It covers a wide temperature range, from 270C to 2700C
3. Using extension leads and compensating cables, long
distances for temperature measurement are
4. The thermocouple is comparatively cheaper in cost
5. The calibration can be easily checked.
6. Speed of response is high
8. Measurement accuracy is quite satisfactory.

1. For accurate temperature measurements, cold junction
compensation is necessary
2. The emf induced versus temperature characteristics is
somewhat nonlinear
3. Stray voltage pickup is possible
4. In many applications, amplification of signal is required.

Thermocouple Availability
K-Type 600C Thermocouple Temperature
Probe Sensor

I want to buy a

Model:K-02 ,4 * 30 2M
Price: 370 PKR

A series of thermocouple connected together is called a
Using thermopile, we can get more sensitive element as
compared to single thermocouple

In thermopile, all measuring junctions are at same
temperature while all the reference junctions are at
another temperature.
The care must be taken to ensure accurate reading that
individual thermocouples are electrically insulated from
each other
The chromel-constantan thermopile provides 1mV/F. It
consists of 25 thermocouples. By using this thermopile,
at temperature change as small as 0.001F can be
Thermopiles are used to measure root temperatures of

Basically thermistor is a contraction of a word 'thermal
The resistors depending on temperature are thermal
resistors. Thus resistance thermometers are also
thermistors having positive temperature coefficients
But generally the resistors having negative temperature
coefficients (NTC) are called thermistors. The resistance
of a thermistor decreases as temperature increases
The thermistors are very sensitive and can detect very
small changes in temperature too

Thermistors are well suited for precision temperature

measurement, temperature control, and temperature
compensation, because of their very large change in
resistance with temperature
They are widely used for measurements
in the temperature range -100 to +200 Celsius.
The measurement of the change in resistance with
temperature is carried out with a Wheatstone bridge

Resistance Temperature
The mathematical relationship according to which the
resistance of thermistor behaves as temperature is
given by

Voltage Current Curve

What is Self Heating Characteristics

Of thermistors ?

Advantages & Limitation

1. Small in size
2. Low in cost
3. Large change in resistance for small change in temperature
4. Signal conditioning circuit required is simple
5. Temperature transducers using thermistors are having fast, sensitive
and stable response
1. The resistance versus temperature characteristic is highly non-linear
2. Not suitable over a wide temperature range

Signal Conditioning Circuit

Most of the times, the signal conditioning circuit for
thermistor includes a Wheatstone bridge and amplifier.
This is shown in the Fig.

Resistance Temperature
Detectors (RTDs)
RTDs are wire wound and thin film devices that measure
temperature because of the physical principle of the positive
temperature coefficient of electrical resistance of metals.
The hotter they become, the larger or higher the value of their
electrical resistance
Platinum RTD and PT100s are the most popular RTD types,
nearly linear over a wide range of temperatures and some
small enough to have response times of a fraction of a second
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Construction and Working of RTD
Advantages and Disadvantage
RTD Error Sources
Resistance Thermometer Wiring Configurations
Two Wire

Light Sensors
In most process control related applications, the
radiation lies in the range from IR through visible and
sometimes UV bands
The measurement sensors generally used are called
photo detectors
Electromagnetic radiations used as the basic light
sensors component can be acting in three forms of
Visible radiations VR
Infrared radiations IR
Ultraviolet radiations UV

1. Photo Detectors
In most process control related applications, the
radiation lies in the range from IR through visible and
sometimes UV bands
The measurement sensors generally used are called
photo detectors. Some of the basic photo detector
devices are:
1. Photo conductive detectors
2. Photo voltaic detectors
3. Photo diode detectors

1. Photo Conductive Detectors

One of the most common photo detectors is based on
the change in the conductivity of a semiconductor
material with radiation intensity.
The change in conductivity appears to be the change in
the resistance, so these devices are also called
photoconductive cells

The photoconductive cell is a semiconductor device

whose resistance varies inversely with the intensity of
light that falls upon its photosensitive material. Fig.
shows typical photoconductive cell and the schematic
These devices are also called photoresistive cells or
photoresistors, since the change in conductivity appears
as a change in resistance

The photoconductive material used is usually cadmium
compounds such as cadmium sulphide (CdS) or cadmium
selenide (CdSe)
This photoconductive material with substrate is enclosed
with suitable enclosure taking out photoconductive
material contacts as metallic leads
The glass window or lens is added at the top of the
enclosure to pass light on photoconductive material.

As we know that in semiconductors, energy gap exists
between conduction electrons and valence electrons
When photons are absorbed in a photoconductive
material, due to absorption of the photo energy,
electrons are excited into conduction band, reducing the
resistance of the photoconductive material

Any radiation with a wavelength greater than that

predicted by Equation cannot cause any resistance
change in the semiconductor

The graph of change in resistance of photoconductor

material with light intensity is shown below
With no incident light, the photoconductive cell
resistance is maximum. This is called the dark
resistance, which is of the order of 100k.
As the light intensity increases,
the resistance decreases significantly.

Photoconductive cells are used in various application
such as smoke detector, outdoor lighting controls etc.


2. Photovoltaic Detectors
Another important class of photo detectors that generates the
voltage with the change in the intensity of light is called
photovoltaic detectors
They are also called photovoltaic cells because of their voltagegenerating characteristic
They actually convert the EM energy into the electrical energy.
Applications are found as both EM radiation detectors and power
sources converting solar energy into electrical power

Working Principle
When sunlight hits the N type side of a photovoltaic
cell,the electrons in the cell become excited. Theyre so
anxious to get moving that theyll gladly go to the P
type side of the cell if given the proper path
That path involves a junction between the positive and
negative side of the cell.

This positive-negative junction (or PN junction) acts as a

diode, allowing the electrons to pass from the positive
(bottom) side to the negative (front) side of the cell but
not in the reverse direction
This means the electrons flow from the negative side of
the cell through the circuit and to the
positive side of the cell

As more electrons move from the negative side to the

positive side, the electrons on the positive side are
pushed up through the PN junction to the negative side
of the cell, and the process continues as long as
sunlight is present
The PN junction ensures that the electrons move
through the circuit.

3. Photodiode Detectors
Photodiode is a semiconductor PN junction whose region
of operation is limited to reverse biased region
The photodiode is designed such that it is sensitive to
the light

When there is no light, the reverse biased photodiode
carries a current which is very small and It is denoted by
I, called dark current. It is purely due to thermally
generated minority carriers

Working Principle
When light is allowed to fall on a p-n junction through a
small window, photons transfer energy to valence
electrons to make them free
Hence reverse current increases. It is proportional to the
light intensity. The Fig. shows the photodiode
The Fig. (a) shows the relation between reverse current
and light intensity while the Fig. (b) shows relation
between reverse voltage and reverse current at
different light intensities

Photodiode Characteristics
It can be seen that reverse current is not dependent on
reverse voltage and totally depends on light intensity.

Use of Photodiode as Variable


Why to be used in
Reverse biased?

Photodiode Applications
Alarm Circuit and Object Counter

Photodiode in Alarm System

Photodiode in Object Counter

4. Photoemissive Detectors
Photoemissive detectors are either evacuated or gasfilled tubes containing a cathode and one or more
When photons impact on the cathode, the electrons are
ejected from the cathode surface and are accelerated
toward the anode that is at a positive potential with
respect to the cathode
The photoelectric current increases proportionally to the
intensity of the illumination

Photo-emissive Effect

Working Principle
The cathode is made up of photosensitive material which
acts as a photoemitter
The anode acts as an electron collector which collects the
liberated electrons. The anode is maintained at some
definite positive potential with respect to cathode
When cathode is subjected to radiation, it emits the
electrons which possess a range of initial velocities. These
velocities vary between zero to a definite maximum value

In order to increase the sensitivity, several more
electrodes (dynodes) are added to the construction of
the detector. In this device, called a photomultiplier, the
electrons that are ejected from the cathode are focused
on one of the dynodes.
A photoelectron from the cathode strikes the first
dynode with sufficient energy to eject several electrons
All of these electrons are accelerated to the second
dynode, where each strikes the surface with sufficient
energy to eject several more electrons

This process is repeated for each dynode until the

electrons that reach the anode are greatly multiplied in
number As a result, the output current has a
significantly increased magnitude, which defines the
high sensitivity of the detector.

Pressure Sensors
Most pressure sensors used in process control result in
the transduction of pressure information into a physical
Measurement of pressure requires techniques for
producing the displacement and means for converting
such displacement into a proportional electrical signal
This is not true, however, in the very low pressure
region (atm), where many purely electronic means of
pressure measurement may be used

One common element used to convert pressure
information into a physical displacement is the
diaphragm (thin, flexible piece of metal) shown in Fig. If
a pressure p1 exists on one side of the diaphragm and
p2 on the other, then a net force is exerted given by

A = diaphragm Area in
p1 and p2, pressure in N/

A diaphragm is like a spring and therefore extends or

contracts until a Hooke's law force is developed that
balances the pressure difference force
This is shown in previous Fig for p1 greater than p2
Notice that since the force is greater on the p1 side of
the diaphragm, it has deflected toward the p2 side.
The extent of this deflection, i.e., the diaphragm
displacement, is a measure of the pressure difference

For the measurement of the absolute pressure, the

opposite side of the diaphragm is a vacuum
For the measurement of differential pressure,
pressure difference the pressures are connected to each
side of the diaphragm
For the gauge pressure, i.e. the pressure relative to
the atmospheric pressure, the opposite side of the
diaphragm is open to the atmosphere

The movement of the center of a diaphragm can be

monitored by some form of displacement sensor
Fig shows the form that might be taken when strain
gauges are used to monitor the displacement, the strain
gauges being stuck to the diaphragm and changing
resistance as a result of the diaphragm movement
Typically such sensors are used for
pressures over the range 100 kPa to 100 MPa

One form of diaphragm pressure gauge uses strain
gauge elements integrated within a silicon diaphragm
and supplied, together with a resistive network for
signal processing, on a single silicon chip as the
Motorola MPX pressure sensor
With a voltage supply connected to the sensor, it gives
an output voltage directly proportional to the pressure.

A bellows, shown in Fig, is another device much like the
diaphragm that converts a pressure differential into a
physical displacement, except that here the
displacement is much more a straight-line expansion.
The accordion-shaped sides of the
bellows are made from thin metal.
When there is a pressure difference,
a net force will exist on the flat, front
surface of the bellows

The bellows assembly will then collapse like an

accordion if p2 is greater than p1 or expand if p2 is less
than p1
Again, we have a displacement which is proportional to
pressure difference. This conversion of pressure to
displacement is very nearly linear.
Therefore, an LVDT can be used to measure the
displacement. This sensor will output an LVDT voltage
amplitude that is linearly related to pressure.


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