Kelvin Sensing or Four-terminal Sensing uses separate pairs of current-carrying and voltage-sensing electrodes to make more accurate measurements than traditional two-terminal test sockets. The advantage in using this method is that the separation of current and voltage electrodes eliminates the impedance contribution of the wiring and other resistances which is especially useful when measuring very low resistances. Testing of Reed contacts should also be conducted using Kelvin Sockets that are specially designed for Kelvin Sensing.
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Four-terminal sensing (4T sensing), 4-wire sensing, or 4-point probes method is an electrical impedance measuring technique that uses separate pairs of current-carrying and voltage-sensing electrodes to make more accurate measurements than the simpler and more usual two-terminal (2T) sensing. Four-terminal sensing is used in some ohmmeters and impedance analyzers, and in wiring for strain gauges and resistance thermometers. Four-point probes are also used to measure sheet resistance of thin films (particularly semiconductor thin films).
Separation of current and voltage electrodes eliminates the lead and contact resistance from the measurement. This is an advantage for precise measurement of low resistance values. For example, an LCR bridge instruction manual recommends the four-terminal technique for accurate measurement of resistance below 100 ohms.
Four-terminal sensing is also known as Kelvin sensing, after William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, who invented the Kelvin bridge in 1861 to measure very low resistances using four-terminal sensing. Each two-wire connection can be called a Kelvin connection. A pair of contacts that is designed to connect a force-and-sense pair to a single terminal or lead simultaneously is called a Kelvin contact. A clip, often a crocodile clip, that connects a force-and-sense pair (typically one to each jaw) is called a Kelvin clip.