Common Diode Types
Depending on their applications, diodes can be segregated into the following major divisions: Small Signal Diode. These are the semiconductor devices used most often in a wide variety of applications. In general purpose applications, they are used as a switch in rectifiers, limiters, capacitors, and in wave shaping. The common diode parameters a designer needs to know include forward voltage, reverse breakdown voltage, reverse leakage current, and recovery time. Silicon Rectifier Diode. These are the diodes that have high forward-current carrying capability, typically up to several hundred amperes. They usually have a forward resistance of only a fraction of an ohm while their reverse resistance is in the megaohm range. Their primary application is in power conversion, such as for power supplies, UPS, rectifiers=inverinverters etc. In case of current exceeding the rated value, their case temperature will rise. For stud mounted diodes, their thermal resistance is between 0.1 to 1 C=W. Zener Diode. Its primary applications are in the voltage reference or regulation. However, its ability to maintain a certain voltage depends on its temperature coefficient and impedance. The voltage reference or regulation application of Zener diodes are based on their avalanche properties. In the reverse-biased mode, at a certain voltage the resistance of these devices may suddenly drop. This occurs at the Zener voltage VX , a parameter the designer knows beforehand. Figure 2.4 shows a circuit in which a Zener diode is used to control the reference voltage of a linear power supply. Under normal operating conditions, the transistor will transmit power to the load (output) circuit. The output power level will depend on the transistor base current. A very high base current will impose a large voltage across the Zener and it may attain Zener voltage VX , at which point it will crush and limit the power supply to the load. Photodiode. When a semiconductor junction is exposed to light, photons generate hole-electron pairs. When these charges diffuse across the junction, they produce photo current. Hence this device acts as a source of current that increases with the intensity of light. Light-Emitting Diode (LED). Power diodes used in PE circuits are high-power versions of the commonly used devices employed in analog and digital circuits. They are manufactured in many varieties and ranges. The current rating can be from a few amperes to several hundreds while the voltage rating varies from tens of volts to several thousand volts.