A Thermocouple is a sensor used to measure temperature. Thermocouples consist of two wire legs made from different metals. The wires legs are welded together at one end, creating a junction. This junction is where the temperature is measured. When the junction experiences a change in temperature, a voltage is created. The voltage can then be interpreted using thermocouple reference tables (linked) to calculate the temperature.
There are many types of thermocouples, each with its own unique characteristics in terms of temperature range, durability, vibration resistance, chemical resistance, and application compatibility. Type J, K, T, & E are “Base Metal” thermocouples, the most common types of thermocouples. Type R, S, and B thermocouples are “Noble Metal” thermocouples, which are used in high temperature applications (see thermocouple temperature ranges (linked) for details).