A zener diode is a type of rectifying semiconductor diode that is used to regulate voltage in a circuit, working in a reverse-bias mode to avoid failure. Semiconductor diodes allow a current to flow in only one direction, but zener diodes allow the current to also flow in the opposite direction when exposed to enough voltage. Zener diodes provide excellent solutions to several common circuit needs.
Below, Solid State Inc. reviews the applications, operations and advantages of zener diodes.
What is the Difference Between a Diode and a Zener Diode?
As noted, a diode is a semiconductor that conducts in a single direction only, whereas a zener diode conducts in both forward and reverse biased directions. If a normal diode operated in reverse, it would be destroyed, though no damage occurs with a zener diode. Instead, zener diodes take full advantage of the amount of reverse voltage applied.
Zener Diode: Basic Operations and Applications
Zener diodes operate the same as a PN junction diode when in the forward-bias direction, but it’s typically used for the reverse mode in its applications. That said, zener diodes also regulate voltage one way (regular) or both ways (bidirectional). It has a wide variety of voltages and, as reverse voltage increases to its breakdown voltage, a current will start to flow through the diode. Because the voltage remains fairly constant across a wide range of power supplies, these are used for voltage regulation, surge suppressors, clipper circuits, and as reference elements across a variety of applications.
If you are handling diodes to build or use within a circuit, it’s essential to determine which way to point the diode. The two terminals of a diode are referred to as the anode to case (AK) and cathode to case (KK). An anode is an electrode that a positive charge will flow through into the device from an external circuit; a cathode is an electrode that directs the current to flow out of the device.
Advantages of Zener Diodes
There are a number of benefits of using zener diodes in circuit applications, including the following:
- Less expensive than other diodes
- Ability to shift voltage
- Easily compatible and obtainable across systems
- High-performance standard
- Protection from over-voltage
- Ability to regulate and stabilize circuit voltage
- Greater control overflowing current
- Usable in smaller circuits
In review, zener diodes are designed to operate in reverse biased mode at which they begin to conduct substantial current. It may function as a voltage regulator by drawing less current if the voltage is too low, or alternately drawing more if the voltage is too high.
Contact the Experts at Solid State Inc.
Solid State Inc. is a renowned electronics components manufacturer. In addition to zener diodes and diodes, we offer transistors, LEDS, rectifiers, triacs, diacs, and much more. To speak with our team, please contact Solid State Inc. today.