[time-nuts] Temperature sensors and quartz crystals (was: HP5061B Versus HP5071 Cesium Line Frequencies)

romeo987 romeo987 at westnet.com.au
Mon Jun 5 09:20:18 EDT 2017

Hi, guys
I have been following time nuts and volt nuts for some time out of interest and fascination. Although my personal backyard hobby is more along a volt nuts line, the two worlds often collide - like in this discussion of temperature sensors, and in particular their long term stability. NTC thermistors appear to be very commonly used in ovens used to stabilize voltage references (solid state as well as chemical) . I have long wondered about their stability.  If, as Bruce asserts, "high quality thermistors can achieve drifts of around 1mK/month" then it appears that this level of drift is a significant factor in the "apparent" aging of, say, a bank of Weston cells (which is still my best backyard shot at a voltage reference). 

I have had no luck with Google; Bruce's statement is the first quantified allusion that I have seen to this subject.  Is there any actual data available on the long term performance of NTC sensors?


> On 5 Jun 2017, at 9:53 AM, Bruce Griffiths <bruce.griffiths at xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> The other issue that needs to be considered is the drift in temperature sensor characteristics when operated at a constant temperature (as is typical in a continuously operated crystal oven). High quality thermistors can achieve drifts of around 1mK/month. Its unlikely that something as complex as an AD590 will achieve a similar drift (1nA/month in a operating current of 300uA or so at 25C). High quality PRT sensors drift even less than thermistors when operating at constant temperature.
> Bruce
>>    .On 05 June 2017 at 11:59 Attila Kinali <attila at kinali.ch> wrote:
>>    Moin,
>>    This discussion is kind of getting heated.
>>    Let's put some facts in, to steer it away from
>>    opinion based discussion.
>>    On Sun, 4 Jun 2017 08:44:33 -0700
>>    "Donald E. Pauly" <trojancowboy at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>        I stand by my remark that thermistors have been obsolete for over 40
>>>        years. The only exception that I know of is cesium beam tubes that
>>>        must withstand a 350° C bakeout. Thermistors are unstable and
>>>        manufactured with a witches brew straight out of MacBeth. Their
>>>        output voltages are tiny and are they inconvenient to use at different
>>>        temperatures.
>>    If you really mean thermistors, and not, as Bob suggested thermocouples,
>>    then I have to disagree. The most stable temperature sensors are
>>    platinum wire sensors. The standards class PRT's are the gold standard
>>    when it comes to temperature measurement, for a quite wide range
>>    (-260°C to +960°C) and are considered very stable. They offer (absolute)
>>    accuracies in the order of 10mK in the temperature range below 400°C.
>>    Even industrial grade PRT sensors give you an absolute accuracy better
>>    than 0.1K up to 200-300°C. The "cheap" PT100 are more of the order of 1-10°C
>>    accuracy... all numbers just using a two-point calibration.
>>    For more information on this see [1] chapter 6 and [2] for industrial sensors.
>>    NTC sensors have a higher variablity of their parameters in production
>>    and are usually specified in % of temperature relative to their reference
>>    point, which is usually 25°C. Typical values are 0.1% to 5%. Additionally
>>    there is a deviation from the reference point, specified in °C, which
>>    is usually in the order of 0.1°C to 1°C.
>>    The NTC sensors are less accurate than PT sensors, but offer the advantage
>>    of higher resistance (thus lower self-heating), higher slope (thus better
>>    precision). Biggest disadvantage is their non-linear curve. Their price
>>    is also a fraction of PT sensors and due to that you can have them in
>>    many different forms, from the 0201 SMD resistor, to a large stainless
>>    steal pipe that goes into a chemical tank. NTCs are the workhorse in
>>    todays temperature measurement and control designs.
>>    The next category are band-gap sensors like the AD590. Their biggest
>>    advantage is that their 0 point is fix at 0K (and very accurately so).
>>    Ie they can be used with single point calibration and achieve 1°C accuracy
>>    this way. Their biggest drawback their large thermal mass and large
>>    insulating case, because they are basically an standard, analog IC.
>>    Ie their main use is in devices where there is a lot of convection and
>>    slow temperature change. Due to their simple and and quite linear
>>    characteristics, they are often used in purely analog temperature
>>    control circuits, or where a linearization is not feasible.
>>    But only if price isn't an issue (they cost 10-1000 times as
>>    much as an PTC). Their biggest disadvantage, beside their slow
>>    thermal raction time, is their large noise uncorrelated to the
>>    supply voltage, and thus cannot be compensated by ratiometric measurement.
>>    They are also more suceptible to mechanical stress than NTC's and PT's,
>>    due to their construction. Similar to voltage references (which they
>>    actually are), their aging is quite substantial and cannot be neglected
>>    in precision application.
>>    With a 3 point calibration, better than 0.5°C accuracy can be achieved
>>    (modulo aging) within their operating temperature range, which is
>>    rather limited, compared to the other sensor types.
>>    I don't know enough about thermocouples to say much about them, beside
>>    that they are cumbersome to work with (e.g. the cold contact) and
>>    produce a low voltage (several µV) output with quite high impedance,
>>    which makes the analog electronics difficult to design as well.
>>    With todays electronics, the easiest sensors to work with are NTC and
>>    PT100/PT1000 as most high resolution delta-sigma ADCs have direct support
>>    for 3 and/or 4 wire measurement of those, including compensation for
>>    reference voltage/current variation. Using a uC as control element
>>    also opens up the possibility to linearize the curve of NTCs without
>>    loss of accuracy. Usually measurement precision, with a state-of-the-art
>>    circuit, is limited by noise coupling into the leads of the sensor
>>    and noise in and around the ADC. (see [3-5])
>>>        Where did you get the idea to use a 1 k load for an AD590?
>>    Jim was refering to a circuit _he_ used in a satellite. Not to your circuit.
>>>        The room temperature coefficient of an AT crystal is -cd 100 ppb per
>>>        reference cut angle in minutes. (-600 ppb/C° for standard crystal)
>>>        The practical limit in a crystal designed for room temperature is
>>>        about 0.1' cut accuracy or ±10 ppb/C°. If you have access to an
>>>        atomic standard, you can use feed forward to get ±1 ppb/C°. If the
>>>        temperature can be held to ±0.001° C, this is ±1 part per trillion.
>>>        This kind of accuracy has never been heard of.
>>    It has been heard of. The 8607 was spec'ed to <2e-10 p-p deviation over temperature range (-30°C to 60°C). Also, to hold the temperature stable to 0.001K in a room temperature environment (let's say 10K variation), you need a thermal gain of >10k. That's quite a bit and needs considerable
>>    design effort. Most OCXO design's I am aware of are in the order of 100
>>    (the DIL14 designs) to a few 1000 for single ovens, to a few 10k for
>>    double ovens. The only exception is the E1938 which achieves >1M.
>>    But that design is not for the faint hearted. I don't remember seeing
>>    any number, but i would guess the 8607 has a thermal gain in the
>>    order of 100k to 1M as well, considering it being a double oven in
>>    a dewar flask.
>>    Also, what do you mean by atomic standard and feed forward?
>>    If you have an atomic standard you don't need to temperature
>>    stabilize your quartz. You can just simply use a PLL to lock
>>    it to your reference and achieve higher stability than any oven
>>    design.
>>>        Feed forward also
>>>        allows you to incorporate the components of the oscillator into the
>>>        thermal behavior. It does no good to have a perfect crystal if the
>>>        oscillator components drift.
>>    Beyond tau=100s, the temperature and moisture sensitivity of the
>>    electronics, combined with the aging of the electronics and the
>>    crystal will be the limit of stability. Of course, this is under
>>    the assumption that you achieved a thermal noise limited design
>>    and thus the 1/f^a noise of the oscillator is negligible in the
>>    time range considered.
>>    Attila Kinali
>>    [1] "Traceable Temperatures - An Introduction to Temperature Measurement
>>    and Calibration", 2nd edition, by Nicholas and White, 2001
>>    [2] "Thin-film platinum resistance thermometer for use at low temperatures
>>    and in high magnetic fields", Haruyama, Yoshizaki, 1986
>>    [3] "Completely Integrated 4-Wire RTD Measurement System Using a Low Power,
>>    Precision, 24-Bit, Sigma-Delta ADC", Analog Circuit Note CN-0381
>>    http://www.analog.com/CN0381
>>    [4] "Completely Integrated 3-Wire RTD Measurement System Using a Low Power,
>>    Precision, 24-Bit, Sigma-Delta ADC", Analog Circuit Note CN-0383
>>    http://www.analog.com/CN0383
>>    [5] "2- 3- 4- Wire RDT (Pt100 to PT1000)Temperature Measurement"
>>    Ti Presentation
>>    http://www.ti.com/europe/downloads/2-%203-%204-Wire%20RTD%20Measurement.pdf
>>    --
>>    You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common.
>>    They don't alters their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to
>>    fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the
>>    facts that needs altering. -- The Doctor
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