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Generally, N-channel JFETs are more commonly used than P-channel. The reasons for this have to do with obscure details of semiconductor theory, which I’d rather not discuss in this chapter. As with bipolar transistors, I believe the best way to introduce field-effect transistor usage is to avoid theory whenever possible and concentrate instead on operational characteristics. The only practical difference between N- and P-channel JFETs you need to concern yourself with now is biasing of the PN junction formed between the gate material and the channel.

With no voltage applied between gate and source, the channel is a wide-open path for electrons to flow. However, if a voltage is applied between gate and source of such polarity that it reverse-biases the PN junction, the flow between source and drain connections becomes limited, or regulated, just as it was for bipolar transistors with a set amount of base current. Maximum gate-source voltage “pinches off” all current through source and drain, thus forcing the JFET into cutoff mode. This behavior is ue to the depletion region of the PN junction expanding under the influence of a reverse-bias voltage, eventually occupying the entire width of the channel if the voltage is great enough. This action may be likened to reducing the flow of a liquid through a flexible hose by squeezing it: with enough force, the hose will be constricted enough to completely block the flow.

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