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PowerThyristorApplicationNotes

PowerThyristorApplicationNotes

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©2004 Littelfuse, Inc.AN1001 - 1http://www.littelfuse.comThyristor Product Catalog+1 972-580-777
AN1001
Fundamental Characteristics of Thyristors
Introduction
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.
SCR
Basic Operation
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
FE
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
FE
 momentarily becomes greater than unity so that the speciallycoupled transistors saturate. Once saturated, current through thetransistors is enough to keep the combined h
FE
greater thanunity. The circuit remains “on” until it is “turned off” by reducingthe anode-to-cathode current (I
T
) so that the combined h
FE
is lessthan unity and regeneration ceases. This threshold anode currentis the holding current of the SCR.
Geometric Construction
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
GateGate
J1J2J3
PNPN
Schematic SymbolBlock Construction
CathodeAnodeCathodeAnode
NPNPNPGateCathodeJ1J2J2J3AnodeNNNCathodeGateAnodeLoadPP
Two-transistorSchematicTwo-transistor BlockConstruction Equivalent
GateCathode(-)(+)IGTPNNP(+)(+)AnodeIT
Forward Bias and Current Flow
GateCathodePNNP(-)Anode
Reverse Bias
Reverse BiasedJunction(-)Anode
Equivalent DiodeRelationship
ForwardBlockingJunctionCathode(-)(+)Anode
Equivalent DiodeRelationship
Cathode(+)Reverse BiasedGate Junction
AN1001
 
 AN1001Application Noteshttp://www.littelfuse.comAN1001 - 2©2004 Littelfuse, Inc.+1 972-580-7777 Thyristor Product Catalog 
Triac
Basic Operation
Figure AN1001.4 shows the simple block construction of a triac.Its primary function is to control power bilaterally in an AC circuit.
Figure AN1001.4Triac Block Construction
Operation of a triac can be related to two SCRs connected in par-allel in opposite directions as shown in Figure AN1001.5.Although the gates are shown separately for each SCR, a triachas a single gate and can be triggered by either polarity.
Figure AN1001.5SCRs Connected as a Triac
Since a triac operates in both directions, it behaves essentiallythe same in either direction as an SCR would behave in the for-ward direction (blocking or operating).
Geometric Construction
Figure AN1001.6 show simplified cross-sectional views of a triacchip in various gating quadrants and blocking modes.
Figure AN1001.6Simplified Cross-sectional of Triac Chip
NNN
PNP
Block Construction
MainTerminal 2(MT2)Gate
Schematic Symbol
MT1GateMT2MainTerminal 1(MT1)
MT1MT2
NNNN
NN
PPPP
GATE(+)MT1(-)IGT
NNIT
MT2(+)
QUADRANT I
GATE(-)MT1(-)MT2(+)
QUADRANT II
IGT
BlockingJunction
MT2(+)MT1(-)
Equivalent DiodeRelationship
NNNN
NNNN
PPPP
GATE(+)MT1(+)IGT
QUADRANT III
GATE(-)MT1(+)MT2(-)
QUADRANT IV
BlockingJunctionEquivalent DiodeRelationship
ITITIGTMT1(+)MT2(-)MT2(-)
 
 Application NotesAN1001©2004 Littelfuse, Inc.AN1001 - 3http://www.littelfuse.comThyristor Product Catalog+1 972-580-777
Sidac
Basic Operation
The sidac is a multi-layer silicon semiconductor switch. FigureAN1001.7 illustrates its equivalent block construction using twoShockley diodes connected inverse parallel. Figure AN1001.7also shows the schematic symbol for the sidac.
Figure AN1001.7Sidac Block Construction
The sidac operates as a bidirectional switch activated by voltage.In the off state, the sidac exhibits leakage currents (I
DRM
) lessthan 5µA. As applied voltage exceeds the sidac V
BO
, the devicebegins to enter a negative resistance switching mode with char-acteristics similar to an avalanche diode. When supplied withenough current (I
S
), the sidac switches to an on state, allowinghigh current to flow. When it switches to on state, the voltageacross the device drops to less than 5V, depending on magni-tude of the current flow. When the sidac switches on and dropsinto regeneration, it remains on as long as holding current is lessthan maximum value (150mA, typical value of 30mA to 65mA).The switching current (I
S
) is very near the holding current (I
H
)value. When the sidac switches, currents of 10A to 100A areeasily developed by discharging small capacitor into primary or small, very high-voltage transformers for 10µs to 20µs.The main application for sidacs is ignition circuits or inexpensivehigh voltage power supplies.
Geometric Construction
Figure AN1001.8Cross-sectional View of a Bidirectional Sidac Chipwith Multi-layer Construction
Diac
Basic Operation
The construction of a diac is similar to an open base NPN tran-sistor. Figure AN1001.9 shows a simple block construction of adiac and its schematic symbol.
Figure AN1001.9Diac Block Construction
The bidirectional transistor-like structure exhibits a high-imped-ance blocking state up to a voltage breakover point (V
BO
) abovewhich the device enters a negative-resistance region. Thesebasic diac characteristics produce a bidirectional pulsing oscilla-tor in a resistor-capacitor AC circuit. Since the diac is a bidirec-tional device, it makes a good economical trigger for firing triacsin phase control circuits such as light dimmers and motor speedcontrols. Figure AN1001.10 shows a simplified AC circuit using adiac and a triac in a phase control application.
Figure AN1001.10AC Phase Control Circuit
Geometric Construction
Figure AN1001.11Cross-sectional View of Diac Chip
PNPNNPNP
23452341Equivalent Diode RelationshipSchematic SymbolMT2MT2MT1MT1
P
3
P
1
N
2
N
4
P
5
MT1MT2
MT1MT2
NNP
MT1MT2
Block ConstructionSchematic Symbol
Load
NN
P
MT1MT2Cross-section of ChipEquivalent DiodeRelationshipMT1MT2

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