A thermistor is a type of resistor that undergoes significant electrical resistance changes based on temperature. Its name is a combination of “thermal” and resistor.”

These devices are widely used in various applications. They possess sensitivity to temperature changes and have the ability to precisely measure and control temperature.

Working Principle of Thermistor

The working principle of a thermistor relies on the behaviour of certain semiconductor materials. These materials exhibit significant changes in electrical resistance in response to variations in temperature.

Semiconductor Behaviour:

Semiconductor materials used in thermistors are often metal oxides like manganese, nickel, cobalt, or titanium. These possess a unique characteristic. Their electrical conductivity varies notably with temperature. This behaviour originates from the motion of charged particles within the crystalline lattice structure of the semiconductor material.

Temperature-Resistance Relationship:

NTC Thermistors: NTC thermistors display a decrease in resistance as temperature rises. This characteristic arises from an increased number of charge carriers, typically electrons. Thus, it leads to easier electron flow and a subsequent lowering of resistance.”

PTC Thermistors: On the contrary, PTC thermistors show a resistance increase with rising temperature. This behaviour arises from the structural changes within the thermistor material. These changes cause a decrease in charge carrier mobility and an increase in resistance.

The Steinhart-Hart Equation:

The relationship between resistance and temperature in thermistors is not linear. Instead, it is described by complex equations like the Steinhart-Hart equation. This equation models the nonlinear behaviour of resistance concerning temperature changes. This equation helps to accurately represent the resistance-temperature characteristics of thermistors across a wide temperature range.

Operation in Circuits:

In practical applications, thermistors are incorporated into electronic circuits. Their varying resistance in response to temperature alterations is utilized. The temperature can be determined by measuring the electrical resistance of the thermistor within a known electrical circuit. This process relies on the calibrated resistance-temperature curve unique to that particular thermistor.

Types of Thermistors:

Based on Material Composition:

Semiconductor Thermistors: Composed of ceramic materials and offer high sensitivity to temperature changes.

Bead Thermistors: These are encapsulated in a small bead shape. They are commonly used for temperature measurement in electronic circuits.

Glass-Encapsulated Thermistors: These are covered in a glass or epoxy coating for protection against harsh environmental conditions.

Based on Temperature Coefficient:

NTC Thermistors: They are widely used for temperature sensing and compensation due to their negative temperature coefficient.

PTC Thermistors: Applied in self-regulating heaters, over current protection, and inrush current limiters due to their positive temperature coefficient.

Applications of Thermistor

Temperature Sensing and Compensation:

Thermistors are extensively employed in thermostats, temperature sensors, and HVAC systems for precise temperature measurement and control.

Medical Devices:

They are utilized in medical thermometers, incubators, and other healthcare equipment for accurate temperature monitoring.

Automotive Industry:

Thermistors play a crucial role in electric vehicles like engine temperature monitoring, climate control systems, and battery temperature management.

Consumer Electronics:

Thermistors are found in devices like smart phones, laptops, and electronic gadgets. These are used for temperature compensation and protection against overheating.

Industrial Processes:

Industrial applications include temperature monitoring in manufacturing processes, food processing, and HVAC systems.

Advantages of Thermistors:

High Sensitivity: Thermistors offer high sensitivity, enabling precise measurements in a small temperature range.

Fast Response Time: They exhibit quick response times to temperature changes. This makes them suitable for applications requiring rapid adjustments.

Compact Size: Their small size allows integration into compact electronic devices without occupying much space.

Cost-Effective: Thermistors are relatively cost-effective compared to other temperature sensing technologies.

Wide Operating Range: They are available in various types with different temperature ranges.


Thermistors are versatile electronic components that play a vital role in temperature measurement and control across numerous industries. Their precise temperature sensing, compact size, and cost-effectiveness make them essential in modern technology.

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