Thermopile working principle and used

Thermopile working principle as as Thermocouples , The thermopile is the name given to a temperature-measuring device that consists of several Thermocouples connected together in series, such that all the reference junctions are at the same cold temperature and all the hot junctions are exposed to the temperature being measured. The effect of connecting n Thermocouples  together in series is to increase the measurement sensitivity by a factor of n. A typical thermopile manufactured by connecting together 25 chromel–constantan thermocouples gives a measurement resolution of 0.001°C.

Diagram of a differential temperature thermopile with two sets of thermocouple pairs connected in series. The two top thermocouple junctions are at temperature T1 while the two bottom thermocouple junctions are at temperature T2. The output voltage from the thermopile, ΔV, is directly proportional to the temperature differential, ΔT or T1T2, across the thermal resistance layer and number of thermocouple junction pairs. The thermopile voltage output is also directly proportional to the heat flux, q”, through the thermal resistance layer.

Thermocouples can be connected in series as thermocouple pairs with a junction located on either side of a thermal resistance layer. The output from the thermocouple pair will be a voltage that is directly proportional to the temperature difference across the thermal resistance layer and also to the heat flux through the thermal resistance layer. Adding more thermocouple pairs in series increases the magnitude of the voltage output. Thermopiles can be constructed with a single thermocouple pair, composed of two thermocouple junctions, or multiple thermocouple pairs.

Thermopiles do not respond to absolute temperature, but generate an output voltage proportional to a local temperature difference or temperature gradient. The amount of voltage and power are very small and they are measured in milli-watts and milli-volts using controlled devices that are specifically designed for such purpose.

Thermopiles are used to provide an output in response to temperature as part of a temperature measuring device, such as the infrared thermometers widely used by medical professionals to measure body temperature, or in thermal accelerometers to measure the temperature profile inside the sealed cavity of the sensor. They are also used widely in heat flux sensors and pyrheliometers and gas burner safety controls. The output of a thermopile is usually in the range of tens or hundreds of millivolts. As well as increasing the signal level, the device may be used to provide spatial temperature averaging.


Thermopile detectors are thermal detectors that utilize the Seebeck effect in which a thermal electromotive force is generated in proportion to the incident infrared light energy. Thermopile detectors themselves have no wavelength dependence and so are used with various types of window materials for diverse applications such as temperature measurement, human body sensing, and gas analysis.

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