Historical perspective: Unit of thermodynamic temperature, kelvin


The definition of the unit of thermodynamic temperature was given by the 10th CGPM which selected the triple point of water, TTPW, as a fundamental fixed point and assigned to it the temperature 273.16 K, thereby defining the kelvin. The 13th CGPM adopted the name kelvin, symbol K, instead of "degree kelvin", symbol °K, for the unit defined in this way. However, the practical difficulties in realizing this definition, requiring a sample of pure water of well-defined isotopic composition and the development of new primary methods of thermometry, led to the adoption of a new definition of the kelvin based on a fixed numerical value of the Boltzmann constant k. The present definition, which removed both of these constraints, was adopted in Resolution 1 of the 26th CGPM (2018).


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CGPM Resolution 3 (1954)

Definition of the thermodynamic temperature scale

CGPM Resolution 3 (1967)

SI unit of thermodynamic temperature (kelvin)

CGPM Resolution 1 (2018)

On the revision of the International System of Units (SI)