Progress towards in-situ traceability and digitalization of temperature measurements


  • Jonathan Pearce National Physical Laboratory
  • Radka Veltcheva
  • Declan Tucker
  • Graham Machin



temperature, thermometry, traceability, primary thermometry, process control, digitalization


Autonomous control systems rely on input from sensors, so it is crucial that the sensor input is validated to ensure that it is ‘right’ and that the measurements are traceable to the International System of Units. The measurement and control of temperature is widespread, and its reliable measurement is key to maximising product quality, optimising efficiency, reducing waste and minimizing emissions such as CO2 and other harmful pollutants. Degradation of temperature sensors in harsh environments such as high temperature, contamination, vibration and ionising radiation causes a progressive loss of accuracy that is not apparent. Here we describe some new developments to overcome the problem of ‘calibration drift’, including self-validating thermocouples and embedded phase-change cells which self-calibrate in situ by means of a built-in temperature reference and practical primary thermometers such as the Johnson noise thermometer which measure temperature directly and do not suffer from calibration drift. All these developments will provide measurement assurance which is an essential part of digitalisation to ensure that sensor output is always ‘right’, as well as providing essential ‘points of truth’ in a sensor network. Some progress in digitalisation of calibrations to make them available to end-users via a website and/or an Application Programming Interface is also described.






Research Papers