A Brief History of Thermistors

A thermistor is used in a wide range of products and applications that shape the modern world. It might seem as if thermistors are a recent invention, but that is not the case. Thermistors can be traced back to the 1830s, which is the tail end of the industrial revolution. The creation of the first NTC thermistor is accredited to Michael Faraday, who was a British physicist and chemist. Today, Mr. Faraday is better known for his lasting work in electrochemistry and electromagnetic induction, but he is still considered the creator of the first thermistor. In 1833, he published a report on the behavior (semiconducting) of Ag2S, which is silver sulfide. This is considered the first recorded thermistor. thermistor
The early stages of thermistor production were difficult, and at the same time applications for this new technology were limited. Roughly, one-hundred years had to pass before thermistors became commonly used by commercial manufacturers. In the early 1940s, Bell Laboratories was able to develop a technique that improves the overall consistency and repeatability of many manufacturing processes. Commercial thermistors at this time were commonly made as disc type because of the broad tolerances they provided. A thermistor was most frequently used for protection, regulation, and compensating for temperature in electronic circuits.
As the years continued, thermistor technology continued to improve. Improvements were meant to keep up with the growing demand for new technologies. By the 1960s, thermistors were being used in the aerospace industry. To meet the tight requirements of space flight, glass bead versions became available. Glass bead thermistors provide the user with stable and accurate performance. The next decade gave us chip thermistors. These thermistors came about as demands for lower costs at higher volumes with tight-tolerances rose.
In the 1980s, the electronic thermometer was introduced to the healthcare world. Costs were rising for sterilization, and medical facilities were worried about cross-infection among patients. This fear leads to a demand for lower cost disposable temperature probes. Chip thermistors were well suited for this task. Thermistors will continue to evolve as the demands of modern industries change. Today, it is common to find different thermistor types used for food processing, automotive transportation, medical devices, HVAC systems, and also in telecommunications markets.


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