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I am reading about this stuff, and I have found clear definitions of thermocouples and thermistors online, eg on Wikipedia. But then I also found something different, e.g. what they at AdaFruit just call an "analogue temperature sensor" (link). It is called TMP36, from Analogue Devices (link).

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What is this category called? If I have a name for it I can find general advice and information on whether this is the way I want to go.

Do they work somewhat like thermistors or thermocouples or in an entirely different way?

I am a hobbyist, if possible please consider this in your answer by not making it more complex than necessary.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I mean this in a very sincere way: Read the link that you yourself posted. If you read the link that you posted, you'll find the answer. If you're looking for something more, it's going to get complicated. \$\endgroup\$ – scld Oct 10 '14 at 20:42
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They are normally referred to as temperature sensors, or temperature ICs. Looking up the part on digikey shows that they catalog it as a Temperature Sensor, Transducer. I've also heard people in the industry refer to them as Band Gap sensors, named for the principle in which they operate under.

It is different from a thermistor because those vary resistance with temperature due to the chemical makeup of the material it is made out of.

It is different from a thermocouple as those produce a voltage between two dissimilar conductors depending on their temperatures.

They are just an already implemented module that will give you a voltage output proportional to temperature. A thermistor or thermocouple will need a circuit to get a varying voltage with temperature. For the module you posted it is integrated into the IC.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wikipedia also has en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_bandgap_temperature_sensor :) \$\endgroup\$ – Dejvid_no1 Oct 10 '14 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for look it up on Digikey. You may not find a universally used term, but looking one up will help you find other similar devices that are similarly classified. Might be called st else on Mouser for example. Some suppliers will deliberately use obtuse wording to make it more difficult to compare price! \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany Oct 10 '14 at 22:49
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This is a Low Voltage Temperature Sensor. I attached a link to the data sheet below. The best way I can describe for you is to call it a "specialized transistor" used to measure temperature. It is designed in such a way that it produces a voltage over a specific voltage range that has a linear reference to temperature over a given range. There is a chart in the data sheet that shows this. I hope this helps answer your question.

http://learn.adafruit.com/system/assets/assets/000/010/131/original/TMP35_36_37.pdf

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