5D20.10 - Temperature Dependence of Resistance - Wire Wound Resistors

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Temperature Dependence of Resistance - Wire Wound Resistors
Temperature vs. Resistance
Area of Study:
Electricity & Magnetism
Assorted Wire Wound and Carbon Resistors with Banana Plug Connections, Multimeter (Ohms Scale), Liquid Nitrogen, 6 Volt Battery, 6 Volt Light Bulb, and Coil at End of Wooden Dowel.

Hook the desired resistor to the Multimeter which is set to the ohms scale. Immerse the resistor in the liquid nitrogen and observe the dramatic drop in the resistance.

NOTE: The resistance in the wire coils goes DOWN when immersed in liquid nitrogen.

A visual way to do this is to replace the Multimeter with the 6 volt light bulb. When the battery is connected and the coil is at room temperature the bulb does not light due to the high resistance of the coil. Immersing the coil in liquid nitrogen reduced the resistance of the coil, and the light comes on.

  • Edward Roob III, Robert F. Bouscher, Ethan I. Kleinbaum, David Sederberg, and Gabor Csathy, "Too Cool Two - Service Learning and Faculty Engagement in Physics Outreach", TPT, Vol. 58, #1, Jan. 2020, p. 28. 
  • Haym Kruglak and Robert Scherzer, "A Laboratory Exercise Amplified", TPT, Vol. 35, #1, Jan. 1997, p. 52.
  • David Wheeler, "Touché!", TPT, Vol. 35, #1, Jan. 1997, p. 5.
  • Paul D. Schulze, "Apparatus for Teaching Physics: Making an Old Measurement Experiment Modern and Exciting!", TPT, Vol. 34, #6, Sept. 1996, p. 380.
  • Jean-Paul Zanter, "Hot Wiring", TPT, Vol. 33, #7, Oct. 1995, p. 486.
  • David Henry, "Resistance of a Wire as a Function of Temperature", TPT, Vol. 33, #2, Feb. 1995, p. 96.
  • Arthur R. Quinton, "The Variation of Resistance with Temperature", TPT, Vol. 18, #3, Mar. 1980, p. 213.
  • R. G. Hunt and G. L. Salinger, "TPT Notes: Qualitative Demonstrations and Experiments Using Liquid Nitrogen", TPT, Vol. 7, #5, May 1969, p. 289.
  • Stanley Edward Jaffe, Beth Stoeckly, "Audible Demonstration Device for Qualitative Analysis of Temperature-Dependent Resistance", AJP, Vol. 48, # 1, Jan. 1980, p. 88.
  • D. Rae Carpenter Jr. and Richard B. Minnix, "E-280. Heat Lamp on Bulb Filament", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • G. D. Freier and F. J. Anderson, "Eg-4",  A Demonstration Handbook for Physics.
  • W. Bolton, "The Effect of Temperature on Resistance", Book 4 - Electricity, Physics Experiments and Projects, 1968, p. 7 - 8.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.