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Publication numberUS20040238023 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/801,496
Publication dateDec 2, 2004
Filing dateMar 16, 2004
Priority dateMar 21, 2002
Also published asUS7361830, US20030209264, US20090044849
Publication number10801496, 801496, US 2004/0238023 A1, US 2004/238023 A1, US 20040238023 A1, US 20040238023A1, US 2004238023 A1, US 2004238023A1, US-A1-20040238023, US-A1-2004238023, US2004/0238023A1, US2004/238023A1, US20040238023 A1, US20040238023A1, US2004238023 A1, US2004238023A1
InventorsAudeen Richetto, Pete Bernier
Original AssigneeAudeen Richetto, Pete Bernier
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-point polymer encapsulated micro-thermocouple
US 20040238023 A1
Abstract
A thermocouple produced by removing insulation from a distal end of each of at least first and second thermocouple conductors, forming a thermocouple junction at the distal ends of the at least first and second thermocouple conductors, placing the thermocouple junction into the heat shrinkable polymer material by sliding a second end of the tube of heat shrinkable polymer material over the thermocouple junction and sealing the thermocouple junction by heating and melting the polymer material.
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Claims(26)
What is claimed is:
1. A thermocouple produced by the method comprising:
removing insulation from a distal end of each of at least first and second thermocouple conductors;
forming a thermocouple junction at the distal ends of the at least first and second thermocouple conductors;
placing the thermocouple junction into a heat shrinkable polymer material by sliding an end of a tube of heat shrinkable polymer material over the thermocouple junction; and
sealing the thermocouple junction by heating and melting the polymer material.
2. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the sealing the thermocouple junction provides a reproducible confined shape having a height less than about 0.008 inches and a width less than about 0.010 inches.
3. The thermocouple of claim 2, wherein a height of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.003 to 0.010 inches.
4. The thermocouple of claim 2, wherein a width of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.005 to 0.0110 inches.
5. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein a length of the thermocouple junction and the polymer seal falls within a range of about 0.05 to 0.5 inches.
6. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the placing the thermocouple junction into the heat shrinkable polymer material further comprises:
melting a second end of the tube to form the second end into a sealed dome shape.
7. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein a second thermocouple junction is formed.
8. The thermocouple of claim 7, wherein the thermocouple junctions are formed at different locations along the thermocouple conductors.
9. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein forming the thermocouple junction comprises soldering the distal ends of the thermocouple conductors.
10. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein forming the thermocouple junction comprises welding the distal ends of the thermocouple conductors.
11. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the thermocouple conductors are conductors of types selected from a set of A.S.T.M. types T, J, K, E, S, R, and B.
12. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the polymer material is polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
13. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the polymer material is fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP).
14. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the thermocouple is adapted and sized to fit into a catheter.
15. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the thermocouple junction further comprises a fuse such that the fuse causes the device to lose the properties of a thermocouple when an electrical rating is exceeded across the thermocouple junction.
16. The thermocouple of claim 1, wherein the device further comprises a fuse placed between a proximal end of at least one of the thermocouple conductors and the thermocouple junction, such that exceeding an electrical rating of the fuse breaks an electrical connection between the proximal end of the conductor and the thermocouple junction.
17. A thermocouple comprising:
a thermocouple junction formed by soldering distal ends of first and second thermocouple conductors, wherein a length of the junction falls within the range of about 0.03 inches to 0.07 inches; and
heat shrinkable polymer material melted to seal and electrically insulate the thermocouple junction within a reproducible confined shape, wherein a height of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.003 to 0.010 inches, and wherein a width of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.005 to 0.0110 inches.
18. The thermocouple of claim 17, wherein a length of the thermocouple junction together with the polymer material falls within a range of about 0.05 to 0.5 inches.
19. A device comprising:
a plurality of thermocouple conductors including at least a first, a second and a third thermocouple conductor, wherein the first thermocouple conductor is of a first type, the second thermocouple conductor is of a second type, and the third conductor is of a type different from the second type;
at least first and second thermocouple junctions, wherein the first thermocouple junction is formed from the first and second thermocouple conductors and the second thermocouple junction is formed from the second and third thermocouple conductors; and
heat shrinkable polymer material melted to seal the at least first and second thermocouple junctions.
20. The device of claim 19, further comprising a distal end, wherein the at least first and second thermocouple junctions are positioned such that a first thermocouple junction is located at the distal end and the at least second thermocouple junction is located further from the distal end than the first thermocouple junction.
21. The thermocouple of claim 19, wherein the sealing the thermocouple junction provides a reproducible confined shape having a height less than about 0.008 inches and a width less than about 0.010 inches.
22. The device of claim 19, wherein the device is adapted and sized to fit into a catheter, and wherein the second end further comprises at least three terminations of the at least three thermocouple conductors, and wherein a difference in voltage at the thermocouple junctions available at the at least three terminations indicates a difference in temperature along the length of the catheter.
23. The device of claim 19, wherein the thermocouple conductor types are selected from a set of A.S.T.M. types T, J, K, E, S, R, and B.
24. A device comprising:
N thermocouple conductors including at least a first conductor and a second conductor;
a range of N/2 to N-−1 thermocouple junctions formed from thermocouple conductor pairs, wherein a thermocouple junction is comprised of two thermocouple conductors of different types, and wherein one thermocouple conductor type may be used in comprising more than one thermocouple junction; and
heat shrinkable polymer material melted to seal thermocouple junctions.
25. The device of claim 24, wherein the device further comprises a distal end, and wherein the thermocouple junctions are formed at different distances from the distal end.
26. The device of claim 24, wherein the thermocouple conductor types are selected from a set of A.S.T.M. types T, J, K, E, S, R, and B.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS AND CLAIMS OF PRIORITY

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent Ser. No. 10/391,531, filed on Mar. 17, 2003, which claims the benefit as provided under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/366,435 filed Mar. 21, 2002, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The application also claims benefit as provided under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/455,617, filed on Mar. 17, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This patent application relates to thermocouple devices, and in particular, to a thermocouple device produced by encapsulating a thermocouple junction with a heat-shrinkable polymer coating.

BACKGROUND

[0003] A thermocouple is a bimetal junction that provides a voltage proportional to temperature. Temperature probes are often formed using thermocouples. Many applications requiring temperature probes require extremely small size.

[0004] One application for extremely small temperature probes is in the medical device industry; especially for use in catheters. For example, ablation catheters are used in non-invasive treatment of heart abnormalities. The ablation catheter is able to identify abnormal tissue growth and uses heat to remove the tissue causing the additional conduction paths. Thermal feedback is required when removing the tissue to prevent blood clotting or blood boiling during the procedure. In using a temperature probe to provide this feedback, the probe must be small enough to get as near an ablation electrode as possible. Also, when used in catheters, it is desirable that a temperature probe not rupture a catheter sleeve by tearing or abrasion. Further, a probe should be electrically insulated to allow in vivo operation.

[0005] It is apparent that uses for extremely small temperature probes beyond the medical field are possible. An extremely small probe would be useful in any field where a measurement of a localized temperature variation is desired, such as for example, the field of electronics.

[0006] What is needed is an insulated thermocouple device of extremely small size.

SUMMARY

[0007] This document discusses an insulated thermocouple device of extremely small size. The thermocouple is produced by removing insulation from distal ends of two thermocouple conductors and then forming a thermocouple junction at the distal ends of the two thermocouple conductors. A tube of heat shrinkable polymer material is placed over the thermocouple junction. The entire thermocouple junction is then sealed by heating and melting the polymer material.

[0008] The resulting thermocouple and seal fall within a reproducible confined shape, where the height of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.003 to 0.010 inches and the width of the confined shape falls within a range of about 0.005 to 0.0110 inches.

[0009] This summary is intended to provide an overview of the subject matter of the present application. It is not intended to provide an exclusive or exhaustive explanation of the invention. The detailed description is included to provide further information about the subject matter of the preset patent application.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] In the drawings like numerals refer to like components throughout the several views.

[0011]FIG. 1 is a drawing of one embodiment of the micro-thermocouple.

[0012]FIG. 2 is a flowchart showing one method for forming the micro-thermocouple.

[0013]FIG. 3 is a drawing showing fused embodiments of the micro-thermocouple.

[0014]FIG. 4 is a drawing of an embodiment of the micro-thermocouple that comprises two thermocouple junctions.

[0015]FIG. 5 is a drawing of an embodiment of the micro-thermocouple that comprises two thermocouple junctions at different locations along the length of the device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced are shown by way of illustration. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be used and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0017] As stated previously, the present application is concerned with materials and techniques used to create a sealed thermocouple of extremely small size. FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of a micro-thermocouple 100. The thermocouple junction 130 is formed from joining conductors 120, 122 of dissimilar metals. The metals comprise any of the standard metal combinations defined by the American Society of Testing and Materials (A.S.T.M.) for thermocouples. The size of the thermocouple conductors generally fall with a range of about 30 awg (0.010 inch diameter) to about 50 awg (0.0009 inch diameter). In one embodiment conductors 120, 122 are joined to form a thermocouple junction 130 by soldering using lead-free solder 135. In another embodiment, conductors 120, 122 are welded and 135 represents a welded bead or seam. Beyond the thermocouple junction 130, the conductors 120, 122 are electrically insulated with commonly used insulating material 140 such as nylon, polyurethane, or polyimide. A heat shrinkable polymer material is then used to form an electrically insulating seal 150 over the micro-thermocouple 100. To create the seal 150, a tube is slid over the thermocouple junction. In one embodiment, the tube is slid over the thermocouple junction and the seal 150 is then formed by heating the tube of polymer material to the point of melting onto and over the thermocouple joint 130 and onto the insulation 140. Melting the polymer material onto the thermocouple conductor insulation 140 provides a seal around the insulation 140. The melting also forms a domed shape 155 on the end of micro-thermocouple 100. This domed end 155 is advantageous if the thermocouple is used in a catheter as it results in the micro-thermocouple 100 being resistant to abrading or tearing a catheter sleeve. In another embodiment, the tube of heat shrinkable polymer material is first sealed on one end by melting the end and forming the domed end before the tube is slid over the thermocouple junction. After the tube is slid over the thermocouple junction 130, further heating and melting provides the insulating seal 150. Other embodiments involve sealing the end while it is placed over the thermocouple junction 130.

[0018] The length (1) 160 of the resultant seal 150 is within the range of about 0.05 inches to 0.5 inches. The overall length (L) 165 of the micro-thermocouple 100 is within the range of about 20 inches to 78 inches. One embodiment of the micro-thermocouple 100 uses polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as the polymer material. Another embodiment uses fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP). The seal 150 is moisture resistant and electrically insulating. The insulation resistance of the seal is greater than 100 Mega-ohms when measured at 50 Volts(DC).

[0019]FIG. 1 also shows a cross section 110 of micro-thermocouple 100. The width (w) 170 of the micro-thermocouple 100 falls within a range from about 0.005 inches to 0.011 inches. The height (h) 175 of the micro-thermocouple 100 falls within a range of about 0.003 inches to 0.01 inches. Thus, it can be seen that the micro-thermocouple can be formed within a reproducible confined shape having a height 175 less than about 0.01 inches and a width 170 less than about 0.011 inches. The final dimensions of the confined shape is determined in part by the gauge of the thermocouple conductors used. Providing the insulation by the technique described herein adds about 0.0005 inches to the width and height dimensions of a formed thermocouple junction.

[0020]FIG. 2 shows a flowchart of one embodiment of a method 200 of forming micro-thermocouple 100. At 210, insulation 140 is removed from a distal end of thermocouple conductors 120, 122. At 220, a thermocouple junction 130 is formed at the distal end of the conductors 120, 122. At 230, the tube of polymer material is slid over the thermocouple junction 130. At 240, a seal 150 is formed over the thermocouple junction 130 by heating and melting the polymer material.

[0021]FIG. 3 shows fused embodiments of the micro-thermocouple 100. A fused thermocouple prevents the possibility of recycling or reusing the thermocouple if the micro-thermocouple 100 is used in a medical device. In one embodiment a fuse 390 is placed in a thermocouple conductor 120 between a proximal end of the conductor 120 and the thermocouple joint 130. Exceeding the rating of the fuse breaks the electrical connection between the proximal end of conductor 120 and the thermocouple joint. In another embodiment, a fuse 395 is formed by placing within the thermocouple junction 130. Exceeding the rating of the fuse 395 across the thermocouple conductors 120 causes the device to lose the properties of a thermocouple.

[0022]FIG. 4 is a drawing of an embodiment of micro-thermocouple 100 that is comprised of two thermocouple junctions 130. The first is formed by thermocouple conductors 120 and 122, and the second is formed by thermocouple conductors 122 and 424. Conductor 122 must be a different metal than conductors 120 and 424, but conductors 120 and 424 may be the same or different metals.

[0023]FIG. 5 is a drawing of an embodiment of micro-thermocouple 100 that is comprised of two thermocouple junctions in a different arrangement than the junctions shown in FIG. 4. In FIG. 5 a second thermocouple junction 530 is at a point further from the end 155 of the micro-thermocouple 100 than thermocouple junction 130. Thermocouple junction 130 is comprised of thermocouple conductors 120 and 122, and thermocouple junction 530 is comprised of thermocouple conductors 122 and 424. As in the embodiment in FIG. 4, conductor 122 must be a different metal than conductors 120 and 424, but conductors 120 and 424 may be the same or different metals. Thus, thermocouple junctions 130, 530 may be the same type or may be different types. An electrically insulating seal 550 is formed over thermocouple junction 530. The arrangement of thermocouple junction 130, 530 in FIG. 5 provides a measurement of temperature change at multiple locations along the length of the micro-thermocouple 100. This concept can be expanded to a thermocouple device having N thermocouple conductors, where N is an integer. If all thermocouple conductors are used in only one thermocouple junction pair, N/2 thermocouple junctions are created and can be placed at N/2 locations along the thermocouple device to provide temperature information at the N/2 locations. If a thermocouple conductor is used in more than one thermocouple junction it is possible to create N−1 thermocouple junctions from N thermocouple conductors. Again, the N−1 thermocouple conductors may be placed at N−1 locations along the thermocouple device to provide temperature information at the N−1 locations.

[0024] Although specific examples have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement calculated to achieve the same purpose could be substituted for the specific example shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the present invention. Therefore, it is intended that this invention be limited only by the claims and the equivalents shown.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7361830Mar 17, 2003Apr 22, 2008Rtd CompanyPolymer encapsulated micro-thermocouple
US7719400Aug 2, 2006May 18, 2010Rtd CompanyMethod and apparatus for flexible temperature sensor having coiled element
US7864026Dec 20, 2005Jan 4, 2011Rtd CompanyFlexible averaging resistance temperature detector
US8106741May 10, 2010Jan 31, 2012Rtd CompanyMethod and apparatus for flexible temperature sensor having coiled element
US8251579Jul 16, 2008Aug 28, 2012Rtd CompanyRobust stator winding temperature sensor
US8790256 *Aug 14, 2007Jul 29, 2014Frederick J. BujaSystem and method employing a thermocouple junction for monitoring of physiological parameters
Classifications
U.S. Classification136/224, 136/201
International ClassificationG01K7/02, H01L35/28
Cooperative ClassificationG01K7/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 27, 2013ASAssignment
Owner name: RESISTANCE TEMPERATURE DETECTOR COMPANY, INC., MIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:RICHETTO, AUDEEN ALAN;REEL/FRAME:030098/0924
Effective date: 20130312
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BERNIER, PETER DAVID;REEL/FRAME:030099/0370
Oct 9, 2012ASAssignment
Owner name: MEASUREMENT SPECIALTIES, INC., VIRGINIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:RESISTANCE TEMPERATURE DETECTOR COMPANY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:029098/0007
Effective date: 20121001
Jul 30, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: RTD COMPANY, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:RICHETTO, AUDEEN;BERNIER, PETE;REEL/FRAME:015020/0801
Effective date: 20040628