Hotwire Anemometry

Hotwire anemometry is used in experimental fluid dynamics to measure velocities with high temporal resolution. The boundary layer crosswire probe shown here was used for turbulence research. Between the prongs, which are about the thickness of a sewing needle, are tiny wires about 3 microns in diameter. A human hair is about 80 microns in diameter. Hotwires actually measure voltage; when part of an electrical circuit, the hotwire’s temperature rises above ambient. As air flows over the wire, it cools, which causes the wire’s resistance to drop. By tracking this change in resistance, it is possible to determine the speed of the air moving over the wire.

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