©2004 Littelfuse, Inc.AN1001 - 1http://www.littelfuse.comThyristor Product Catalog+1 972-580-7777
Fundamental Characteristics of Thyristors
The thyristor family of semiconductors consists of several veryuseful devices. The most widely used of this family are siliconcontrolled rectifiers (SCRs), triacs, sidacs, and diacs. In manyapplications these devices perform key functions and are realassets in meeting environmental, speed, and reliability specifica-tions which their electro-mechanical counterparts cannot fulfill.This application note presents the basic fundamentals of SCR,triac, sidac, and diac thyristors so the user understands how theydiffer in characteristics and parameters from their electro-mechanical counterparts. Also, thyristor terminology is defined.
Figure AN1001.1 shows the simple block construction of an SCR.
Figure AN1001.1SCR Block Construction
The operation of a PNPN device can best be visualized as a spe-cially coupled pair of transistors as shown in Figure AN1001.2.
Figure AN1001.2Coupled Pair of Transistors as a SCR
The connections between the two transistors trigger the occur-rence of regenerative action when a proper gate signal is appliedto the base of the NPN transistor. Normal leakage current is solow that the combined h
of the specially coupled two-transistor feedback amplifier is less than unity, thus keeping the circuit inan off-state condition. A momentary positive pulse applied to thegate biases the NPN transistor into conduction which, in turn,biases the PNP transistor into conduction. The effective h
momentarily becomes greater than unity so that the speciallycoupled transistors saturate. Once saturated, current through thetransistors is enough to keep the combined h
greater thanunity. The circuit remains “on” until it is “turned off” by reducingthe anode-to-cathode current (I
) so that the combined h
is lessthan unity and regeneration ceases. This threshold anode currentis the holding current of the SCR.
Figure AN1001.3 shows cross-sectional views of an SCR chipand illustrations of current flow and junction biasing in both theblocking and triggering modes.
Figure AN1001.3Cross-sectional View of SCR Chip
Schematic SymbolBlock Construction
Two-transistorSchematicTwo-transistor BlockConstruction Equivalent
Forward Bias and Current Flow
Cathode(+)Reverse BiasedGate Junction