In designing personal electronics, industrial or medical applications, engineers must address some of the same challenges: how to increase performance, add features and shrink form factors. Along with these considerations, they must carefully monitor temperature to ensure safety and protect systems and consumers from harm.
Another trend spanning numerous industries is the need to process more data from more sensors, further necessitating the importance of temperature measurement—not just to measure system or environmental conditions, but to compensate for other temperature-sensitive components in order to maintain both sensor and system accuracy. As an added benefit, accurate temperature monitoring can increase system performance and reduce costs by removing the need to overdesign systems to compensate for inaccurate temperature measurements.
Temperature design challenges fall into three categories:
- Temperature monitoring: Temperature sensors provide valuable data for continuously tracking thermal conditions, and provide feedback to control systems. This can be system temperature monitoring or environmental temperature monitoring. In several applications we can see design challenges where both are required to be implemented in the control loop. These include system temperature monitoring, ambient temperature monitoring and body or fluid temperature monitoring.
- Temperature protection: Several applications require action once the system goes above or below functional temperature thresholds. Temperature sensors provide output alerts upon the detection of defined conditions to prevent system damage. It is possible to enhance processor throughput without compromising system reliability. Systems often initiate a safe thermal shutdown too soon, effectively losing up to 5°C or even 10°C of performance. When the system goes above or below functional temperature thresholds, engineers can autonomously initiate actions for real-time protection.
- Temperature compensation: Temperature sensors can maximize the performance of a system as temperature changes during normal operations. Monitoring and correcting the drift of other critical components as they heat up and cool down reduces the risk of system failure.