Lab #10 Thermocouples


Conceptual goal: Obtain a qualitative understanding of the significance of the Fermi energy and the physics behind thermocouples.
Modeling goal: Further the students’ understanding of the interplay between theory, modeling, and experiment (what happens when a model does not fit the experimental results? Is the theory wrong? Is the model too simple?).
Experimental goal: Calibration of a thermocouple.
Computational goal: Plotting, use of polynomial fits.

We have developed a handout that guides students in designing and carrying out an experiment to calibrate a T-type thermocouple using known boiling, condensation, melting and sublimation temperatures of different substances such as water, dry ice, acetone, and liquid nitrogen. Students then fit their voltage vs. temperature data to a polynomial using Matlab, and use their results, along with the Meissner effect, to measure the critical temperature of a superconductor in the next laboratory.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DUE-1140034.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.