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Thermal Management Handbook

# Thermal Management Handbook

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Published by: Satya Sai Babu Yeleti on Jan 29, 2011

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06/10/2013

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NTCs are the most commonly used thermistors for measurement applications. Usually molded
from metal-oxide semiconductor materials, they have a large negative temperature coefficient.
The relationship between resistance and temperature for a common NTC is shown in Figure 2.
Note the nonlinearity of the resistance vs. temperature curve.

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(a)

(b)

Figure 2. Resistance vs. temperature curves for a standard NTC. Nominal resistance is 10kΩ at
+25°C. Note the nonlinearity and large relative temperature coefficient of curve (a). Curve (b) is
based on a logarithmic scale and also exhibits significant nonlinearity.

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Note that the nonlinearity of NTCs introduces a difficulty when a wide range of temperatures
must be measured. Because the slope of the curves in Figure 2 decreases significantly at
temperature extremes, the effective temperature resolution of any ADC used with the NTC will
be degraded at those extremes. This may require the use of a higher resolution ADC if a wide
range of temperatures must be measured

Combining an NTC with a fixed resistor in a voltage-divider circuit like the one in Figure 1
provides some linearization, as shown in Figure 3. By selecting an appropriate value for the
fixed resistor, the temperature range for which the curve is most linear can be shifted to meet
the needs of the application.

Figure 3. Making an NTC voltage-divider, as in Figure 1, helps to linearize the NTC’s resistance curve
over a limited temperature range. The voltages on the NTC and the external resistor, R1, are shown
as a function of temperature. Note that the voltage is roughly linear from 0°C to +70°C.

The accuracy specifications for NTCs vary significantly. At one end of the spectrum are very
low-cost thermistors that are guaranteed only at a single temperature. The components are
capable of giving a rough indication of temperature—within a few degrees of the actual value
at the guaranteed temperature—and no guarantee at other temperatures. At the other end are
significantly more expensive, interchangeable thermistors that are guaranteed to a fraction of a
degree accuracy over a wide range of temperature.

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