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Power Diodes

Book topics:
2.1, 2.2, 2.3,2.4

Diode acts as a switch to perform various

Switches in rectifiers
Free wheeling diode in switching regulator
Voltage isolation
Energy feedback from load to the power
Energy transfer between components

N-type material:
If pure silicon (intrinsic semiconductor) is doped with
a small amount of group-v elements such as
phosphorus, arsenic or antimony, each atom of
dopant forms a covalent bond within the silicon lattice
leaving a loose electron.
These loose electron greatly increase the conductivity
of the materials.
When silicon is lightly doped, the resultant material is
referred to as n-type semiconductors.
When it is heavily doped, material is referred to as n+
-type semiconductor.

P-type material:
If pure silicon is doped with a small amount of groupiii elements, such as boron, gallium or indium, a
vacant location called a hole is introduced into the
silicon lattice.
These holes greatly increase the conductivity.
When silicon is lightly doped with impurity such as
boron, the resultant material is called p-type
When it is heavily doped, it is referred to as p+ type

Diode characteristics
A diode is two terminal p-n junction device and a p-n
junction is normally formed by alloying, diffusion and
epitaxial growth.
Semiconductor devices are formed from junctions of
dissimilar materials.
P-N junctions, and also P-i-N devices with an internal
intrinsic layer are suitable for power diodes.
The current rating depends on area (current density!)
The voltage rating depends on the depth of the doped

When a PN junction is unbiased, the doping

provides free charge.
Near the junction, charges cancel and we have
a depletion region.




Depletion region

When anode potential is +ve with respect to

the cathode, the diode is said to be forward
biased and diode conducts.
A conducting diode has small forward voltage
drop across it.
Magnitude of this drop depends upon the
manufacturing process and junction temperature.


+ + ++
++ + +
+ + ++
++ + +



+ + ++
++ + +
+ + ++
++ + +


Diffusion region

Diode characteristics can be divided into three

Forward biased region, where VD > 0
Reverse biased region, where VD < 0
Breakdown region, where VD < -VBR

Forward biased region

VD > 0
Diode current ID very small if VD is less than a
specific value VT (0.7V)
Diode conducts fully if VD is higher than this
value VT, which is referred to as the threshold
voltage or the turn-on voltage
The threshold voltage is a voltage at which the
diode conducts fully.

Breakdown region
Reverse voltage is high (usually with a magnitude
greater than 1000V).
Magnitude of reverse voltage exceeds a specified
voltage known as the breakdown voltage, VBR
IR increases rapidly with a small change in reverse
voltage beyond VBR.
The operation in this region will not be
destructive provided that the power dissipation is
within a safe level that is specified in the
manufactures data sheet.

Reverse recovery time is defined as the time interval

between the instant the current passes through zero during
the changeover from forward conduction to the reverse
blocking conduction and the moment the reverse current
has decayed to 25% of its peak reverse value.
The recovery time is in range of a few s(1-5s) in a
conventional diode to several hundred nanoseconds in fast
recovery diodes. This recovery time is of great significance
in high frequency operation.
Forward recovery time, tFR is the time required for the
diode voltage to drop to a particular value after the forward
current starts to ow.

Reverse Recovery Characteristics

Reverse Recovery charge

Reverse recovery charge (Qrr) is the amount of
charge that flows across the diode in the reverse
direction due to the changeover from forward
conduction to reverse-blocking condition.
Its value is determined from the area enclosed by
the path of the reverse recovery current.
= +


Equating values:

If is negligible as compared to , than



Snubber Circuit for Diode

Snubber circuits are essential for diodes used
in switching circuits. It can save a diode from
overvoltage spikes, which may arise during the
reverse recovery process.
A very common snubber circuit for a power
diode consists of a capacitor and a resistor
connected in parallel with the diode as shown
in Fig.