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The thermocouple consists of the junction of two wires of different metals. At a given temperature, a potential difference results at the opposite extremes of the two wires (Seebeck effect), with the respective variations linearly related within small intervals. It is therefore possible to determine the temperature given the potential difference and characteristics of the two metals. The measurement end of the thermocouple probe is called the hot junction, while the connection of the thermocouple to the meter is the cold junction. An error is introduced as the cold junction is exposed to the ambient temperature. This error can be eliminated by physically putting the cold junction into an ice bath and forcing a reference temperature of 0oC, or by electronically compensating for the cold junction temperature effect. There are various types of thermocouples, identified by an ANSI code using a letter of the alphabet. The K type is the most commonly used thermocouple.

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