Thermistors are a special form of resistor that utilizes temperature readings for its operations, hence their name which is a combination of “thermal” and “resistor.” Made from metallic oxide that is molded and shaped before being enclosed within epoxy or glass, thermistors are a form of resistance thermometer with conductance sitting between insulators and conductors with their semiconductor construction. In this blog, we will discuss thermistor components in more detail, allowing you to have a better understanding of their history, functionality, and types.
The first thermistor came about in 1833, created by Michael Faraday who noticed that silver sulfide exhibits a sharp drop of resistance in accordance with temperature rises. Despite the discovery and creation of the first NTC thermistor, the technology was difficult to produce at the time, as well as had little applicational use. As a result, thermistors did not find much use until the 1930s when Samuel Ruben invented the first commercially viable thermistor.
While relying on temperature changes for functionality, thermistors are only suitable for specific ranges that they are designed for based on the materials they are made from. Generally, thermistors are the most precise when used to detect temperatures within 50 degrees Celsius of the target temperature. Altogether, thermistors are known for being fairly simple to use, durable, and cost-effective. For their common applications, thermistors may be found within digital thermometer equipment, vehicle oil and coolant systems, household appliances like refrigerators, and protection circuit components. As such, one can see how thermistors are regularly used for making the temperature detections necessary for the operations of many tools, appliances, and systems.
When it comes to the common types of thermistors that one may use, most fall into two groups. The most popular form is the Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) thermistor, and these are designed to have their resistance decrease as temperatures increase. The other major group includes Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) thermistors, those of which work in the opposite way with resistance levels increasing as temperatures increase.
The overall amount of resistance change will often come down to the exact materials that were used for constructing the thermistor. Additionally, it is important to understand that resistance changes in response to temperature fluctuations are nonlinear for all thermistors, meaning that the relationship between the two values will not form a straight line when put on a graph. Instead, thermistors follow a curve where exact differences vary based on design.
There are many advantages to be aware of when shopping for thermistors, including their durability, sensitivity, compact size, affordable pricing, and benefits for single point temperature measurements. Despite this, it is important to consider that these devices have limited temperature ranges that they can operate on and that relationships between resistance and temperatures are nonlinear. Nevertheless, thermistors still serve as a crucial element of many systems as a result of their capabilities, making them a very good choice for any digital thermometer, protection circuit, oil cooling system, or another similar application.
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