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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT, VOL. 58, NO.

2, FEBRUARY 2009

441

Linearization Circuit of the Thermistor Connection


Zvezditza P. Nenova and Toshko G. Nenov, Member, IEEE

AbstractThermistors have found wide application in temperature measurement and control in different fields, but they exhibit
a strong nonlinearity of the characteristic, which is of an exponential type. This paper investigates the possibility of creating a
thermistor-based temperature sensor with frequency and analog
outputs and a linearized characteristic on the basis of a 7555 timer.
It is shown through simulations that the linearization of the characteristic can be achieved without connecting additional elements
to the circuit but only through a choice of the parameters of the
thermistor and of the frequency-determining circuit elements. The
investigations conducted show a good match between the theoretically and experimentally obtained characteristics. The proposed
circuit is characterized by nonlinearity of 1% in a specific
temperature range, as well as high temperature stability.
Index TermsLinearization, sensors, temperature measurement, thermistors, 7555 timer.

I. I NTRODUCTION

EGATIVE temperature coefficient (NTC) thermistors


have found a wide application in temperature measurement and control in the chemical, food, and automobile
industries, in measurement instruments, and in medicine, for
temperature compensation of electronic components, for the
control of liquid level, for measuring flow, as current and
voltage limiters, etc.
Thermistors are prepared from oxide materials through ceramic or film technology. The oxides of the metals Mn, Fe,
Co, Ni, and Cu, from the group of the transitory elements
in the fourth group of the periodic table, are most widely
used [1][3]. These oxides have semiconductor properties. In
comparison with resistance temperature detectors and thermocouples, thermistors have high sensitivity and allow for the
detection of small changes in temperature. Furthermore, they
are characterized by a low price and comparatively simple
preparation technology.
When thermistors are used in temperature measurement,
they are connected to a corresponding measurement circuit.
Most frequently, the measurement circuits are voltage dividers
or bridge circuits. However, due to the strongly manifested
nonlinearity of the thermistor characteristic, which is of an
exponential type, different methods for linearization are used
[2], [3]. The linearization of the transformation function of the
thermistor connection circuits makes their application much
easier.
Manuscript received October 7, 2003; revised June 12, 2008. First published
September 5, 2008; current version published January 5, 2009.
Z. P. Nenova is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical
University of Gabrovo, Gabrovo 5300, Bulgaria (e-mail: nenova@tugab.bg).
T. G. Nenov is with the Department of Automation, Information, and Control
Systems, Technical University of Gabrovo, Gabrovo 5300, Bulgaria (e-mail:
tnenov@tugab.bg).
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIM.2008.2003320

With passive methods of linearization, additional resistors


are connected to the thermistor (in series or parallel), which
makes different segments of their characteristic linearized
[4], [5]. The second group of linearization methods consists of
connecting the thermistor into circuits containing logarithmic
amplifiers [6][8]. The third group of linearization methods
contains the conversion of temperature into frequency or time
intervals. In this case, the thermistor is connected to circuits
on the basis of discrete active elements, which perform this
conversion [9][13].
Apart from the methods described, computer methods for
linearization are also used, with the usage of a lookup table being the most common [14][16]. For this purpose, a
special read-only memory or an analog-to-digital converter
is used.
This paper proposes a method of characteristic linearization
of an NTC thermistor temperature sensor based on a 7555 timer
with frequency and analog outputs. Linearization of the highly
nonlinear thermistor characteristic is achieved only through a
choice of the frequency-determining parameters of the connection circuit, depending on the thermistor parameters and
the prespecified working temperature range without additional
linearization elements. It is determined that the connection of
thermistors with lower values of their parameter B, such as
V2 O5 -based thermistors, leads to a wider linearization range.
The circuit is easy to implement and convenient for various
applications. Furthermore, when using the frequency output,
the signal has a higher noise immunity, which is a property of
frequency modulation.
II. T HEORETICAL B ACKGROUND
The NTC thermistors, which are prepared on the basis of
semiconductor oxide materials, exhibit the following transformation function [2]:
RT = AeB/T

(1)

where A = R is a constant corresponding to the thermistor resistivity at an infinitely high temperature T (i.e., when
1/T 0), and B is the material constant (expressed in
kelvins), which is determined by the activation energy q and
the Boltzmanns constant k with the dependence
B = q/k.

(2)

The circuit of the thermistor connection is given in


Fig. 1. The timer works as an astable multivibrator,
and the corresponding thermistor RT is connected to its

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Fig. 1. Thermistor connection circuit with frequency output.

frequency-determining circuit. The output frequency of the


timer is given by the dependence [17]
f=

1.44
(R + 2RT )C

(3)

where RT is the resistance of the thermistor, and R and C are


the values of the corresponding circuit elements.
Therefore, the transformation function of the measurement
circuit can be represented as
f=

1.44
1.44

=
B/T
(R +2R e
)C
R +2RT 25 eB(1/T 1/298) C
(4)

where RT 25 is the resistance of the thermistor at 25 C


(298 K), which, together with B, is given in the thermistor
reference data of the manufacturer.
The graphs of function (4), as well as of its first and second
derivatives with respect to temperature T (f  (T ) and f  (T ),
respectively), are shown in Fig. 2.
The transformation function (4) contains an inflection point,
which corresponds to an extreme point of the first derivative
and a zero value of the second derivative. The first derivative
changes the least around this inflection point, and the characteristic of the measurement circuit can be treated as linearized
in this range. The method of reciprocal transformations [18] is
the basis for the linearization of the transformation function,
i.e., if
Y = F (Z)

(5)

Z = F (X)

(6)

Y = X.

(7)

then

In this case, the linearization of the highly nonlinear characteristic of the thermistor is attained because of the reciprocal
character in some ranges of the functions f = F (RT ) and
RT = F (T ), and unlike other circuits of thermistor connection, the connection of additional linearization elements is not
required.
From the analysis of function (4), it follows that
lim f = 0

T 0+

lim f =

T +

1.44
1.44

(R + 2R )C
R C

(8)
(9)

Fig. 2. (a) Connection circuit characteristic f = F (T ). (b) First derivative.


(c) Second derivative.

since for thermistors, it holds that R  R (R 1000


to provide maximum temperature stability of the timer
circuit [19]).
It can be inferred from dependence (9) that the frequencydetermining capacitance C can only influence the circuit
sensitivity and that the necessary output frequency range of
the circuit can be selected through it. As C is increased,
the sensitivity and the output frequency of the circuit are
decreased. Furthermore, C does not affect the shape of the
dependence f = F (T ). The frequency-determining resistance
R influences the sensitivity and the frequency range of the
circuit, similarly to C . As C and R are increased, the
value toward which the output frequency goes asymptotically
decreases, in accordance with dependence (9).
To investigate the influence of the thermistor parameters
RT 25 and B, as well as the frequency-determining parameter

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NENOVA AND NENOV: LINEARIZATION CIRCUIT OF THE THERMISTOR CONNECTION

443

Fig. 3. Influence of RT 25 /R on the inflection temperature Tin for different


values of B.

R , on the linearized segment of the characteristic, a simulation


with the MathCAD software package is used. This is important
for achieving linearization that covers the most frequently used
working temperature ranges of the thermistors. To obtain the
point of inflection, the equation
f  (T ) = 0

(10)

is numerically solved.
From the simulation results, it is determined that the temperature at which the point of inflection is obtained (further on
in this paper, this temperature is termed inflection temperature
Tin for short) depends on the ratio RT 25 /R , as well as on B.
This dependence is graphically shown in Fig. 3.
For the cases when RT 25 /R 11.2, the parameter B
only insignificantly influences the inflection temperature. At
RT 25 /R 1.1, the points of inflection for different values of
B coincide at Tin 308 K with precision of 1 K (Fig. 4).
When RT 25 > R , an increase in B leads to a decrease in
the inflection temperature, and when RT 25 < R , an increase
in B leads to an increase in the inflection temperature, but in
this case, this influence is much smaller. Apart from this, the
results obtained lead to the conclusion that for small values of
B, the rate of change of the second derivative around the point
of inflection is small, which leads to a wider linearized segment
of the characteristic.
An increase in the ratio RT 25 /R leads to an increase in
the inflection temperature. That is, keeping the frequencydetermining resistance R constant, using thermistors with
higher values of RT 25 leads to an increase in the inflection
temperature, which means linearization at higher temperatures.
For a given thermistor (i.e., for a given RT 25 ), an increase in
R will lead to a decrease in the inflection temperature, and
vice versa.
Fig. 5 shows simulation results when varying RT 25 (R =
const and B = const), whereas Fig. 6 shows results when
varying B (RT 25 > R , R = const, and RT 25 = const).
Fig. 7 shows the influence of R (RT 25 = const and B =
const). The results obtained not only show that an increase in
R leads to a decrease in the inflection temperature but also
confirm the conclusion obtained on the basis of (9) that, for a
given thermistor, an increase in R leads to a decrease in the
asymptotic value to which the output frequency of the circuit

Fig. 4. Influence of B (a) on the connection circuit characteristic f = F (T )


and (b) on the second derivative (inflection point Tin ) for RT 25 /R 1.1.

tends. To increase the output range in such cases, the frequencydetermining capacitance C has to be decreased.
On the basis of the simulations and the dependences obtained, the following approach for the choice of the thermistor
and frequency-determining parameters of the circuit can be
proposed to obtain a linearized segment of the characteristic in
a prespecified working temperature range.
1) To achieve a wider linearized segment of the characteristic, a choice of a thermistor with a lower value of B is
required.
2) If RT 25 /R 11.2, then the inflection temperature is
around 308 K (35 C) for any value of B.
3) If the inflection point required has to be at a temperature
lower than 308 K (35 C), then the condition RT 25 < R
has to hold, in which case, the value of B does not
significantly affect the position of this point.
4) If the inflection point required has to be at a temperature
higher than 308 K (35 C), then the condition RT 25 > R
has to hold. In this case, an increase in the ratio RT 25 /R
(holding B constant) leads to an increase in the inflection
temperature, i.e., the linearized segment will be in a
higher temperature range.
5) When RT 25 > R , a decrease in B while holding the
ratio RT 25 /R constant increases the inflection temperature, and vice versa.
6) A specific output frequency range for a given set of parameters of the thermistor and the frequency-determining

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Fig. 5. Influence of RT 25 (a) on the connection circuit characteristic f =


F (T ) and (b) on the second derivative (inflection point Tin ) for RT 25 >
R (R = 1 k).

Fig. 7. Influence of R (a) on the connection circuit characteristic f =


F (T ) and (b) on the second derivative (inflection point Tin ) for RT 25 >
R (RT 25 = 4700 ).
TABLE I
EXPERIMENTALLY INVESTIGATED THERMISTORS

resistance R can be obtained by adjusting the frequencydetermining capacitance C .

III. E XPERIMENTAL R ESULTS


A. Preparation of the Experimental Samples

Fig. 6. Influence of B (a) on the connection circuit characteristic f =


F (T ) and (b) on the second derivative (inflection point Tin ) for RT 25 >
R (RT 25 /R = 4.7).

NTC thermistors with different parameters have been selected to conduct the investigations. Because manufacturers
usually offer thermistors with B greater than 3000 K, a V2 O5 based thermistor has been prepared. The experimentally investigated thermistors [20], [21] are shown in Table I.
The V2 O5 -based thermistor has been prepared using classical ceramic technology [22]. V2 O5 (purity) has been used as
a material. The ceramic samples have been synthesized at a
temperature of 660 C for 2 h. After being fired, the ceramic
samples have been ground and cleaned in an ultrasonic basin.

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NENOVA AND NENOV: LINEARIZATION CIRCUIT OF THE THERMISTOR CONNECTION

Fig. 8. (a) Simulated characteristics f = F (T ) and (b) second derivative


obtained for R = 1 k and C = 120 nF and for the parameters of
thermistors Ther1 (RT 25 /R = 2.4), Ther2 (RT 25 /R = 4.7), and Ther3
(RT 25 /R = 47).

They have been coated with Leitsilber 200 (a silver solution in


ethylene glycol and xylol) to form electrodes.

B. Simulation of the Circuit Characteristics for the


Investigated Thermistors
A simulation of the characteristics is conducted for the
thermistors in Table I at R = 1000 and C = 120 nF, and
the results are shown in Fig. 8. The inflection temperatures are
around 341, 347, and 422 K, respectively.
In accordance with the simulation investigations, the linearity
in the widest temperature range is observed in Ther1, which
has the lowest value of B. The lower value of RT 25 for this
thermistor (R = const for all three thermistors), i.e., a smaller
RT 25 /R ratio, leads to a lower inflection temperature since, as
previously discussed, its influence is larger than that of B. The
linearized segment for Ther1 is from around 0 C to 120 C;
for Ther2, it is from around 30 C to 120 C; and for Ther3,
it is above 90 C. To decrease the inflection temperature for
Ther3, simulations are conducted at higher values of R for
the circuit. Because this leads to a decrease in the output
frequency, the appropriate change of the output signal is accomplished with a change in the value of the frequency-determining
capacitance C . Fig. 9 shows the characteristic obtained and
the second derivative at R = 6200 and C = 47 nF, and the
inflection temperature is around 358 K.

445

Fig. 9. (a) Simulated characteristics f = F (T ) and (b) second derivative obtained for R = 6.2 k and C = 47 nF and for the parameters of thermistor
Ther3 (RT 25 /R 7.6).

The characteristic obtained shows linearization for Ther3 in


the range from around 40 C to 120 C. In the cases considered
for Ther2 and Ther3, which have higher values of B, the
linearized segment is narrower compared with Ther1.

C. Experimental Investigation of the


Temperature Characteristics
The investigation of the temperature dependences is carried
out using a thermostat in the range from 0 C to 120 C. The
temperature has been measured with a mercurial thermometer
in the chamber of the thermostat with precision of up to
0.2 C, and the resistance has been measured with an RLC
bridge (type P5030) at a frequency of 1 kHz.
The investigation of the temperature characteristics of the
measurement circuit has been carried out under analogous
conditions. The frequency and voltage have been measured
using a frequency meter Philips PM6622 and a voltmeter Metex
M-3850D, respectively.
The dependences RT = F (T ) for the specified thermistors
are presented in Fig. 10. They show the strong nonlinearity of
the thermistor characteristics.
Experimental investigations have been carried out for the
three thermistors and the parameters C and R used in the

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Fig. 10. Experimental characteristics RT = F (T ) of the thermistors


investigated.

TABLE II
PARAMETERS C AND R FOR THE THERMISTOR CONNECTION CIRCUIT
AND T EMPERATURE R ANGES W ITH A L INEARIZED C HARACTERISTIC

simulations. These parameters, as well as the temperature range


with a linearized characteristic, are shown in Table II.
Fig. 11 shows the dependences f = F (T ) obtained through
a simulation with the parameters shown in Table II, as well as
the dependences fe = F (T ) obtained through an experimental
acquisition of the circuit characteristics. Because of tolerances
in the thermistor parameters for a given series, some differences
in the simulation results and the experimental characteristics
are possible. Nevertheless, these differences are mostly in the
circuit sensitivity (the slope of the characteristic). What is important is the linearization effect achieved, which confirms the
practical applicability of the proposed method. As aforementioned, the sensitivity can easily be influenced by the frequencydetermining capacitance C .
Additionally, for greater universality, a frequency-to-voltage
converter can be connected at the output so that the circuit can
have a voltage output.
A linearized thermistor connection circuit with frequency
and voltage outputs is shown in Fig. 12. The circuit contains
two U2 and U3 7555 timers. The first timer works in an astable
multivibrator mode, and the respective thermistor is connected
to pins 6 and 7. With the change in temperature, the resistance
of the thermistor RT changes, and in accordance with (1) and
(3), the frequency at the output of the timer (pin 3) also changes.

Fig. 11. Simulated characteristics f = F (T ) and experimental characteristics fe = F (T ) of the connection circuit when connecting (a) Ther1, (b) Ther2,
and (c) Ther3.

The values of the frequency-determining resistance R2 = R


and capacitance C6 = C correspond to the values shown for
the different thermistors and temperature ranges in Table II. The
second timer works in a monostable multivibrator mode [23],
and the pulse sequence formed by the first timer is fed at its
input. The U3 timer forms a pulse with a specific amplitude U0
and duration t0 with each negative front of the incoming pulses.
Thus, a pulse sequence with the same frequency as that at the
output of the first timer but with constant pulse parameters will
be formed on pin 3 of the U3 timer. The average value of the
voltage, i.e., the dc component of the output signal of the second
timer, will be [24]
1
U = U= =
Tx

Tx
u(t)dt =

1
U0 t0 = U0 t0 f = pf
Tx

(11)

where Tx = 1/f is the tracking period of the pulse sequence,


and p = U0 t0 is the coefficient of proportionality.

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447

Fig. 12. Thermistor connection circuit with frequency and voltage outputs.

To obtain the dc component, at the output of the second timer,


a low-frequency RC filter, which is realized on the basis of the
R5 and C10 elements, is used. Therefore, the U3 timer works
as a frequency-to-voltage converter with a linear function of
converting U = F (f ), preserving the shape of the dependence
f = F (T ). The duration of the pulses formed by the second
timer is determined using the following dependence [23]:
t0 = 1.1R4 C9 .

(12)

For the choice of the R4 and C9 elements, the condition


t0 < Tx for the highest working frequency is kept in order
for a frequency-to-voltage linear conversion to be provided in
accordance with (11).
The stabilization of the supply voltage +5 V of the circuits
is realized using an integral stabilizer U1 type 78L05.
Fig. 13 shows the experimental characteristics f = F (T ) and
U = F (T ) of the investigated circuit for thermistor Ther1. Due
to the high linearity of conversion of the frequency-to-voltage
converter, in accordance with (11), the nonlinearity errors of
both characteristics are almost the same. The sensitivity of the
frequency output circuit is high, and for Ther1, it is about
48 Hz/ C. The sensitivity of the voltage output circuit for Ther1
is about 15 mV/ C.
The characteristic obtained for Ther1 is approximated by
straight lines in the ranges from 0 C to 120 C and from
20 C to 120 C. The nonlinearity error for the two cases is
shown in Fig. 14. In the first case, the nonlinearity error in the
whole range does not exceed 1.7%, and in the second case,
for the range from 20 C to 120 C, it does not exceed 1%.
The temperature impact on the elements in the measurement
circuit has also been investigated. For this purpose, instead of
the thermistor, a standard resistor with a value equal to that of
the thermistor at 20 C is connected. This resistor is placed at
a constant temperature so that it would not interfere with the

Fig. 13. Experimental characteristics f = F (T ) and U = F (T ) of the connection circuit from Fig. 12 when connecting Ther1.

output signals, whereas the measurement circuit is placed in


the thermostat chamber, and the temperature is varied in the
range from 20 C to 50 C. The changes in output frequency
and voltage are traced. These results are shown in Fig. 15.
The output frequency and voltage of the measurement circuit
insignificantly change with the change in temperature. The
error from the temperature influence on the frequency output
circuit for Ther1 is about 0.01%/ C, and for the voltage output
circuit, it is about 0.02%/ C. To achieve this high temperature
stability of the circuit, elements with low temperature coefficients in the frequency-determining circuits of the two timers
have been used.
IV. C ONCLUSION
As a result of the investigation conducted in this paper,
the possibility for the design of a temperature sensor on the
basis of a thermistor connected to a 7555 integrated timer with
frequency and analog outputs and a linearized characteristic has
been shown. The linearization of the transformation function
is accomplished without connecting additional elements to the

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the prespecified selected parameters of the thermistor and


the frequency-determining resistance R .
4) The nonlinearity error of the circuit when a thermistor
with a low value of B (B < 2200 K) is connected does
not exceed 1% for a temperature range of about 100 C.
5) The temperature influence error on the measurement
circuit is in the range from 0.01%/ C to 0.02%/ C.
The high temperature stability of the circuit is achieved
by using capacitors and resistors with low temperature
coefficients in the frequency-determining circuits of the
timers.

R EFERENCES

Fig. 14. Nonlinearity error of the Ther1 connection circuit characteristic with
linear approximation for ranges (a) 0 C to 120 C and (b) 20 C to 120 C.

Fig. 15. Experimental characteristics (a) f = F (T ) and (b) U = F (T ) of


the connection circuit under the temperature impact on its elements.

circuit, but rather through a selection of a thermistor and the


parameters of the frequency-determining circuit elements.
Several conclusions can be made on the basis of the obtained
results.
1) The ratio between the thermistor resistance and the
frequency-determining resistance of the circuit, i.e.,
RT 25 /R , significantly influences the sensor characteristic and the linearized segment.
2) A selection of a thermistor with a lower value of B leads
to a wider linearized segment of the sensor characteristic.
3) A specific frequency range of the output signal of the
sensor can be selected through a change in the value of the
frequency-determining capacitance C of the timer, given

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NENOVA AND NENOV: LINEARIZATION CIRCUIT OF THE THERMISTOR CONNECTION

Zvezditza P. Nenova received the M.S. and Ph.D.


degrees in electrical engineering from the National
Technical University of Ukraine Kiev Polytechnic Institute, Kiev, Ukraine, in 1983 and 1990,
respectively.
During 19881999, she was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering,
Technical University of Gabrovo, Gabrovo, Bulgaria,
where she has been an Associate Professor since
1999. She has authored more than 80 publications
in multiple journals and conferences. Her research
interests are in the fields of measurement and control and computer-based
systems for data acquisition.
Prof. Nenova is a member of the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria and the
Bulgarian Union of Automation and Informatics.

449

Toshko G. Nenov (M98) received the M.S. degree in electronics from the Technical University
of Gabrovo, Gabrovo, Bulgaria, in 1979 and the
Ph.D. degree in microelectronics from the National
Technical University of Ukraine Kiev Polytechnic
Institute, Kiev, Ukraine, in 1984.
During 19851994, he was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Automation, Information, and Control Systems, Technical University of
Gabrovo, where he has been an Associate Professor
since 1994. He has authored more than 100 publications, including the book Ceramic Sensors: Technology and Application
(Technomic, 1996), which was published in the U.S. His research interests are
in the fields of sensors and microprocessor systems.
Prof. Nenov is a member of the Bulgarian Union of Automation and
Informatics.

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