Thermal conduction is the transfer of heat in internal energy by microscopic collisions of particles and movement of electrons within a body. The microscopically colliding particles, that include molecules, atoms and electrons, transfer disorganized microscopic kinetic and potential energy, jointly known as internal energy. Conduction takes place in all phases of solids, liquids, gases and waves. The rate at which energy is conducted as heat between two body is a function of the temperature difference temperature gradient between the two bodies and the properties of the conductive interface through which the heat is transferred.
In conduction, the heat flow is within and through the body itself. In contrast, in heat transfer by thermal radiation, the transfer is often between bodies, which may be separated spatially. Also possible is transfer of heat by a combination of conduction and thermal radiation. In convection, internal energy is carried between bodies by a moving material carrier. In solids, conduction is mediated by the combination of vibrations and collisions of molecules, of propagation and collisions of phonons, and of diffusion and collisions of free electrons. In gases and liquids, conduction is due to the collisions and diffusion of molecules during their random motion. Photons in this context do not collide with one another, and so heat transport by electromagnetic radiation is conceptually distinct from heat conduction by microscopic diffusion and collisions of material particles and phonons. But the distinction is often not easily observed, unless the material is semi-transparent.
Thermal contact conductance is the study of heat conduction between solid bodies in contact. A temperature drop is often observed at the interface between the two surfaces in contact. This phenomenon is said to be a result of a thermal contact resistance existing between the contacting surfaces. Interfacial thermal resistance is a measure of an interface's resistance to thermal flow. This thermal resistance differs from contact resistance, as it exists even at atomically perfect interfaces. Understanding the thermal resistance at the interface between two materials is of primary significance in the study of its thermal properties. Interfaces often contribute significantly to the observed properties of the materials.
Metals (e.g., copper, platinum, gold, etc.) are usually good conductors of thermal energy. This is due to the way that metals bond chemically: metallic bonds (as opposed to covalent or ionic bonds) have free-moving electrons that transfer thermal energy rapidly through the metal. The electron fluid of a conductive metallic solid conducts most of the heat flux through the solid. Phonon flux is still present, but carries less of the energy. Electrons also conduct electric current through conductive solids, and the thermal and electrical conductivities of most metals have about the same ratio. A good electrical conductor, such as copper, also conducts heat well. Thermoelectricity is caused by the interaction of heat flux and electric current. Heat conduction within a solid is directly analogous to diffusion of particles within a fluid, in the situation where there are no fluid currents.
When a new perturbation of temperature of this type happens, temperatures within the system change in time toward a new equilibrium with the new conditions, provided that these do not change. After equilibrium, heat flow into the system once again equals the heat flow out, and temperatures at each point inside the system no longer change. Once this happens, transient conduction is ended, although steady-state conduction may continue if heat flow continues.
The law of heat conduction, also known as Fourier's law, states that the rate of heat transfer through a material is proportional to the negative gradient in the temperature and to the area, at right angles to that gradient, through which the heat flows. We can state this law in two equivalent forms: the integral form, in which we look at the amount of energy flowing into or out of a body as a whole, and the differential form, in which we look at the flow rates or fluxes of energy locally.
The working of this instrument is by principle based on the Wheatstone bridge containing four filaments whose resistances are matched. Whenever a certain gas is passed over such network of filaments, their resistance changes due to the altered thermal conductivity of the filaments and thereby changing the net voltage output from the Wheatstone Bridge. This voltage output will be correlated with the database to identify the gas sample.