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The Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR)
Shockley diodes are curious devices, but rather limited in application. Their usefulness may be expanded, however, by equipping them with another means of latching. In doing so, each becomes true amplifying devices (if only in an on/off mode), and we refer to these as silicon-controlled rectifiers, or SCRs. The progression from Shockley diode to SCR is achieved with one small addition, actually nothing more than a third wire connection to the existing PNPN structure: (Figure below)

The Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR) If an SCR's gate is left floating (disconnected), it behaves exactly as a Shockley diode. It may be latched by breakover voltage or by exceeding the critical rate of voltage rise between anode and cathode, just as with the Shockley diode. Dropout is accomplished by reducing current until one or both internal transistors fall into cutoff mode, also like the Shockley diode. However, because the gate terminal connects directly to the base of the lower transistor, it may be used as an alternative means to latch the SCR. By applying a small voltage between gate and cathode, the lower transistor will be forced on by the resulting base current, which will cause the upper transistor to conduct, which then supplies the lower transistor's base with current so that it no longer needs to be activated by a gate voltage. The necessary gate current to initiate latch-up, of course, will be much lower than the current through the SCR from cathode to anode, so the SCR does achieve a measure of amplification. This method of securing SCR conduction is called triggering, and it is by far the most common way that SCRs are latched in actual practice. In fact, SCRs are usually chosen so that their breakover voltage is far beyond the greatest voltage expected to be experienced from the power source, so that it can be turned on only by an intentional voltage pulse applied to the gate. It should be mentioned that SCRs may sometimes be turned off by directly shorting their gate and cathode terminals together, or by "reverse-triggering" the gate with a negative voltage (in reference to the cathode), so that the lower transistor is forced into cutoff. I say this is "sometimes" possible because it involves shunting all of the upper transistor's collector current past the lower transistor's base. This current may be substantial, making triggered shut-off of an SCR difficult at best. A variation of the SCR, called a Gate-Turn-Off thyristor, or GTO, makes this task easier. But even with a GTO, the gate current required to turn it off may be as much as 20% of the anode

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(load) current! The schematic symbol for a GTO is shown in the following illustration: (Figure below)

The Gate Turn-Off thyristor (GTO) SCRs and GTOs share the same equivalent schematics (two transistors connected in a positive-feedback fashion), the only differences being details of construction designed to grant the NPN transistor a greater β than the PNP. This allows a smaller gate current (forward or reverse) to exert a greater degree of control over conduction from cathode to anode, with the PNP transistor's latched state being more dependent upon the NPN's than vice versa. The Gate-Turn-Off thyristor is also known by the name of Gate-Controlled Switch, or GCS. A rudimentary test of SCR function, or at least terminal identification, may be performed with an ohmmeter. Because the internal connection between gate and cathode is a single PN junction, a meter should indicate continuity between these terminals with the red test lead on the gate and the black test lead on the cathode like this: (Figure below)

Rudimentary test of SCR All other continuity measurements performed on an SCR will show "open" ("OL" on some digital multimeter displays). It must be understood that this test is very crude and does not constitute a comprehensive assessment of the SCR. It is possible for an SCR to give good ohmmeter indications and still be defective. Ultimately, the only way to test an SCR is to subject it to a load current.

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If you are using a multimeter with a "diode check" function, the gate-to-cathode junction voltage indication you get may or may not correspond to what's expected of a silicon PN junction (approximately 0.7 volts). In some cases, you will read a much lower junction voltage: mere hundredths of a volt. This is due to an internal resistor connected between the gate and cathode incorporated within some SCRs. This resistor is added to make the SCR less susceptible to false triggering by spurious voltage spikes, from circuit "noise" or from static electric discharge. In other words, having a resistor connected across the gate-cathode junction requires that a strong triggering signal (substantial current) be applied to latch the SCR. This feature is often found in larger SCRs, not on small SCRs. Bear in mind that an SCR with an internal resistor connected between gate and cathode will indicate continuity in both directions between those two terminals: (Figure below)

Larger SCRs have gate to cathode resistor. "Normal" SCRs, lacking this internal resistor, are sometimes referred to as sensitive gate SCRs due to their ability to be triggered by the slightest positive gate signal. The test circuit for an SCR is both practical as a diagnostic tool for checking suspected SCRs and also an excellent aid to understanding basic SCR operation. A DC voltage source is used for powering the circuit, and two pushbutton switches are used to latch and unlatch the SCR, respectively: (Figure below)

SCR testing circuit

for placing a direct short-circuit on the output of that supply to prevent excessive voltage from reaching the load. through the load resistor. Damage to the SCR and power supply is prevented by the judicious placement of a fuse or substantial series resistance ahead of the SCR to limit short-circuit current: (Figure below) . Holding current values for different SCRs should be available from the manufacturers. Pushing the normally-closed "off" pushbutton switch breaks the circuit. the critical rate of voltage rise for the SCR could be tested in the same way: subject it to pulsing supply voltages of different V/time rates with no pushbutton switches actuated and see when it latches. A load with too great a resistance value may not draw enough current to keep an SCR latched when gate current ceases. This minimum current level is called the holding current.4 Actuating the normally-open "on" pushbutton switch connects the gate to the anode. When the "on" pushbutton is released. the load should remain energized. In this simple form. or other practical load: (Figure below) DC motor start/stop control circuit Another practical use for the SCR in a DC circuit is as a crowbar device for overvoltage protection. through the cathode-gate PN junction. more than the triggering action needs to be tested. if a pulse voltage generator is available. The forward breakover voltage limit of the SCR could be tested by increasing the DC voltage supply (with no pushbuttons actuated) until the SCR latches all on its own. thus giving the false impression of a bad (unlatchable) SCR in the test circuit. thus forcing it to turn off (low-current dropout). Beware that a breakover test may require very high voltage: many power SCRs have breakover voltage ratings of 600 volts or more! Also. A certain minimum amount of load current is required to hold the SCR latched in the "on" state. If the SCR fails to latch. Typical holding current values range from 1 milliamp to 50 milliamps or more for larger units. allowing current to go directly from cathode to anode without further triggering through the gate. lamp. For the test to be fully comprehensive. the problem may be with the load and not the SCR. the SCR test circuit could suffice as a start/stop control circuit for a DC motor. forcing current through the SCR to halt. allowing current from the negative terminal of the battery. This gate current should force the SCR to latch on. and back to the battery. through the switch. A "crowbar" circuit consists of an SCR placed in parallel with the output of a DC power supply.

The primary reason SCRs are used at all for AC power control applications is the unique response of a thyristor to an alternating current. The effect will be approximately the same as dropping a solid steel crowbar directly across the output terminals of the power supply. Just prior to the zerocrossover point of the current waveform. hence the name of the circuit. triggering the SCR and forcing the fuse to blow. here is the graph of a DIAC's response to an AC voltage whose peak exceeds the breakover voltage of the DIAC: (Figure below) DIAC bidirectional response With the DIAC. Most applications of the SCR are for AC power control. despite the fact that SCRs are inherently DC (unidirectional) devices. so that when an overvoltage condition occurs. If bidirectional circuit current is required. the thyristor will turn off due to insufficient current (this behavior is also known as natural commutation) and must be fired again during the next cycle. we have control over exactly when the device becomes latched by triggering the gate at any point in time along the waveform. a hysteretic device triggered on during a portion of an AC half-cycle will latch and remain on throughout the remainder of the half-cycle until the AC current decreases to zero. For review. voltage will be applied between the gate and cathode. that breakover voltage limit was a fixed quantity.5 Crowbar circuit used in DC power supply Some device or circuit sensing the output voltage will be connected to the gate of the SCR. By connecting a suitable control circuit to the . As we saw. With the SCR. as it must to begin the next half-cycle. the thyratron tube (the electron tube version of the SCR) and the DIAC. with one or more facing each direction to handle current through both half-cycles of the AC wave. The result is a circuit current equivalent to a "chopped up" sine wave. multiple SCRs may be used.

however. the SCR will never turn on. by inserting some resistance into the gate circuit. Connecting the SCR gate to the anode through a standard rectifying diode (to prevent reverse current through the gate in the event of the SCR containing a built-in gate-cathode resistor). and the AC source voltage well below the SCR's breakover voltage rating. nearly complete half-wave current through load. for demonstrating the basic concept of time-proportional control. an SCR is positioned in a circuit to control power to a load from an AC source. However. we can "chop" the sine wave at any point to allow for timeproportioned power control to a load. in the half-cycle of AC where the supply voltage polarity is positive on the top and negative on the bottom. this simple circuit is better than one controlling full-wave power (which would require two SCRs). at most we can only deliver half-wave power to the load. will allow the SCR to be triggered almost immediately at the beginning of every positive half-cycle: (Figure below) Gate connected directly to anode through a diode. the AC voltage will have to reach a . In other words. Take the circuit in Figure below as an example. We can delay the triggering of the SCR.6 gate of an SCR. thus increasing the amount of voltage drop required before enough gate current triggers the SCR. With no triggering to the gate. SCR control of AC power Being a unidirectional (one-way) device. Here. if we make it harder for electrons to flow through the gate by adding a resistance.

Unfortunately. The result is in Figure below.7 higher point in its cycle before there will be enough gate current to turn the SCR on. In using the AC source waveform for our SCR triggering signal. By making the series gate resistor variable. Resistance inserted in gate circuit. the load receives less average power (power is delivered for less time throughout a cycle). This means we can turn down the power only to the point where the SCR turns on at the very peak of the wave: (Figure below) . this control scheme has a significant limitation. it is not possible for us to wait until after the wave's peak to trigger the SCR. we limit control to the first half of the waveform's half-cycle. less than half-wave current through load. causing less power to be delivered to the load. In other words. With the half-sine wave chopped up to a greater degree by delayed triggering of the SCR. Decreasing the resistance lowers the threshold level. causing more power to be delivered to the load. we can make adjustments to the time-proportioned power: (Figure below) Increasing the resistance raises the threshold level.

This capacitor voltage will be phase-shifted anywhere from 0o to 90o lagging behind the power source AC waveform. I'm assuming a condition of maximum control resistance where the SCR is not triggering at all with no load current. For the sake of illustrating the phase shift. When this phase-shifted voltage reaches a high enough level. An ingenious solution to this control dilemma is found in the addition of a phaseshifting capacitor to the circuit: (Figure below) Addition of a phase-shifting capacitor to the circuit The smaller waveform shown on the graph is voltage across the capacitor. The result will be no power to the load. since not even the peak of the AC power voltage will be enough to trigger the SCR. the SCR will trigger. . save for what little current goes through the control resistor and capacitor.8 Circuit at minimum power setting Raising the trigger threshold any more will cause the circuit to not trigger at all.

a simplified. making it difficult to connect a single triggering circuit to all SCRs equally. When multiple SCRs are used to control power. their cathodes are often not electrically common. or "fired. Because the capacitor waveform is still rising after the main AC power waveform has reached its peak. While the circuit previously shown is sufficient for a simple application like a lamp control. thus chopping the load current wave further than it was possible with the simpler circuit. However. pulse transformers are used to couple a triggering circuit to the gate and cathode of an SCR to provide electrical isolation between the triggering and power circuits: (Figure below) Transformer coupling of trigger signal provides isolation. undistorted waveform serves the purpose well. it becomes possible to trigger the SCR at a threshold level beyond that peak. large industrial motor controls often rely on more sophisticated triggering methods. the capacitor voltage waveform is a bit more complex that what is shown here. the resulting load current waveform will look something like Figure below) Phase-shifted signal triggers SCR into conduction. Sometimes. thus. An example of this is the controlled bridge rectifier shown in Figure below.9 With enough voltage across the capacitor to periodically trigger the SCR. SCRs may also be triggered. its sinusoidal shape distorted every time the SCR latches on. In reality." by more complex circuits. . what I'm trying to illustrate here is the delayed triggering action gained with the phase-shifting RC network.

however: (Figure below) . As you will notice. these pairs of SCRs do not share the same cathode connections. and SCR2 and SCR4 must be fired together as a pair. the rectifying diodes (in this example. meaning that it would not work to simply parallel their respective gate connections and connect a single voltage source to trigger both: (Figure below) This strategy will not work for triggering SCR2 and SCR4 as a pair. it will not trigger SCR2 properly because the two thyristors do not share a common cathode connection to reference that triggering voltage. SCR1 and SCR3 must be fired simultaneously. Pulse transformers connecting the two thyristor gates to a common triggering voltage source will work. though. Although the triggering voltage source shown will trigger SCR4. the rectifying SCRs) must conduct in opposite pairs.10 Controlled bridge rectifier In any bridge rectifier circuit.

and solid-state control circuits are built to take advantage of that. AC power is available in three-phase form for maximum efficiency. as well as the details of the pulse sources themselves.11 Transformer coupling of the gates allows triggering of SCR2 and SCR4 . • To trigger. an SCR. and it is used to trigger the device into conduction (latch it) by the application of a small voltage. or SCR. Controlled bridge rectifiers are not limited to single-phase designs. is essentially a Shockley diode with an extra terminal added. voltage must be applied between the gate and cathode. and duration to trigger it. would look like Figure below. a momentary connection between the gate and anode is sufficient in polarity. A three-phase controlled rectifier circuit built with SCRs. This extra terminal is called the gate. . When testing an SCR. In most industrial control systems. have been omitted for the sake of simplicity. positive to the gate and negative to the cathode. Three-phase bridge SCR control of load • REVIEW: • A Silicon-Controlled Rectifier. Bear in mind that this circuit only shows the gate connections for two out of the four SCRs. without pulse transformers or triggering circuitry shown. intensity. Pulse transformers and triggering sources for SCR1 and SCR3. or fire.

Gate and cathode terminals connect to a PN junction inside the SCR. though. whereby DC power to a load may be time-proportioned by triggering the SCRs at different points along the AC power waveform. • SCRs are true rectifiers: they only allow current through them in one direction. excessive voltage (breakdown) between anode and cathode. that some large SCRs have an internal resistor connected between gate and cathode. Beware. called a Gate-Turn-Off thyristor (GTO). and always involves high gate current.12 • SCRs may be fired by intentional triggering of the gate terminal. you have the makings of a controlled rectifier circuit. which will affect any continuity readings taken by a meter. • A variant of the SCR. • SCR terminals may be identified by a continuity meter: the only two terminals showing any continuity between them at all should be the gate and cathode. This means they cannot be used alone for full-wave AC power control. SCRs may be turned off by anode current falling below the holding current value (low-current dropout). or excessive rate of voltage rise between anode and cathode. Reverse-firing is only sometimes effective. • If the diodes in a rectifier circuit are replaced by SCRs. or by "reverse-firing" the gate (applying a negative voltage to the gate). . is specifically designed to be turned off by means of reverse triggering. Even then. so a continuity meter should obtain a diode-like reading between these two terminals with the red (+) lead on the gate and the black (-) lead on the cathode. reverse triggering requires fairly high current: typically 20% of the anode current.

this is undesirable. these are more commonly seen in circuits like motor drives. low-power applications like household dimmer switches. making them useful for controlling DC only. TRIAC phase-control of power TRIACs are notorious for not firing symmetrically. we have a new device known as the TRIAC: (Figure below) The TRIAC SCR equivalent and. TRIAC schematic symbol Because individual SCRs are more flexible to use in advanced control systems. If two SCRs are joined in back-to-back parallel fashion just like two Shockley diodes were joined together to form a DIAC. complete with the phase-shifting resistorcapacitor network necessary for after-peak firing. Waveforms that are symmetrical above and below their average centerlines are comprised of only oddnumbered harmonics. on the other hand. . This means these usually won't trigger at the exact same gate voltage level for one polarity as for the other. because unsymmetrical firing results in a current waveform with a greater variety of harmonic frequencies. Unsymmetrical waveforms. contain evennumbered harmonics (which may or may not be accompanied by odd-numbered harmonics as well). Generally speaking. TRIACs are usually seen in simple. A simple lamp dimmer circuit is shown in Figure below.13 TRIACS SCRs are unidirectional (one-way) current devices.

repeatable level in either direction. Not much more needs to be said about this device except for an important caveat concerning its terminal designations. The actual operating characteristics may differ slightly from that of the equivalent model. high-power control circuits. . A DIAC placed in series with the gate does a fair job of this: (Figure below) DIAC improves symmetry of control DIAC breakover voltages tend to be much more symmetrical (the same in one polarity as the other) than TRIAC triggering voltage thresholds. it in fact is constructed from a single piece of semiconducting material. Although the resulting circuit lacks the fine control ability of the more complex version (with capacitor and DIAC). This is made most evident by contrasting two simple circuit designs. except that TRIACs of course are bidirectional (can handle current in both directions). From the equivalent circuit diagram shown earlier.14 In the interest of reducing total harmonic content in power systems. Practically all the characteristics and ratings of SCRs apply equally to TRIACs. The following two circuits are a variation of the lamp dimmer circuit shown earlier. the fewer and less diverse the harmonics.one more reason individual SCRs are favored over TRIACs for complex. one might think that main terminals 1 and 2 were interchangeable. the phase-shifting capacitor and DIAC removed for simplicity's sake. and the waveform more symmetrical above and below its centerline. One way to make the TRIAC's current waveform more symmetrical is to use a device external to the TRIAC to time the triggering pulse. it does function: (Figure below) This circuit with the gate to MT2 does function. one that works and one that doesn't. the firing point of the TRIAC from one half-cycle to the next tends to be more consistent. appropriately doped and layered. These are not! Although it is helpful to imagine the TRIAC as being composed of two SCRs joined together. the better -. Since the DIAC prevents any gate current until the triggering voltage has reached a certain.

However. low-power circuits than complex.15 Suppose we were to swap the two main terminals of the TRIAC around. • To successfully trigger a TRIAC. According to the equivalent circuit diagram shown earlier in this section. The DIAC helps the TRIAC fire more symmetrically (more consistently from one polarity to another). • TRIAC controls are more often seen in simple. The key to successfully triggering a TRIAC is to make sure the gate receives its triggering current from the main terminal 2 side of the circuit (the main terminal on the opposite side of the TRIAC symbol from the gate terminal). Identification of the MT1 and MT2 terminals must be done via the TRIAC's part number with reference to a data sheet or book. it will be found that it does not work! The load will receive no power. In large power control circuits. • REVIEW: • A TRIAC acts much like two SCRs connected back-to-back for bidirectional (AC) operation. multiple SCRs tend to be favored. gate current must come from the main terminal 2 (MT2) side of the circuit! . • When used to control AC power to a load. no matter how low or high a resistance value the control resistor is set to. high-power circuits. The circuit ought to work: (Figure below) With the gate swapped to MT1. the swap should make no difference. if this circuit is built. TRIACs are often accompanied by DIACs connected in series with their gate terminals. this circuit does not function. the TRIAC refusing to fire at all. • Main terminals 1 and 2 on a TRIAC are not interchangeable.

looks like Figure below. SCRs and TRIACs are also manufactured as light-sensitive devices. or Light Activated SCR. . Its symbol. Opto-TRIAC Optothyristors (a general term for either the LASCR or the opto-TRIAC) are commonly found inside sealed "optoisolator" modules.16 LIGHT ACTIVATED SCR (LASCR) Like bipolar transistors. Their schematic symbol is shown in Figure below. but instead are humbly known as opto-TRIACs. Optically-controlled SCRs are often known by the acronym LASCR. the action of impinging light replacing the function of triggering voltage. not surprisingly. Light activated SCR Optically-controlled TRIACs don't receive the honor of having their own acronym.

Note that the motor is in the anode gate circuit in Figure below. having been supplied with a current path from its emitter terminal (the SCS's anode terminal) through resistor R2 to the positive side of the power supply. When the "on" pushbutton switch is actuated. equivalent circuit with two transistors. The top transistor of the SCS is ready to conduct. SCS: Motor start/stop circuit. the voltage applied between the cathode gate and the cathode. and turning it on. This is correct. Therefore the motor cannot be in series with the anode. although it doesn't look right. forward-biases the lower transistor's base-emitter junction. particularly in the mode of forced commutation. where an external signal forces it to turn off while the main current through the device has not yet fallen below the holding current value. As in the case . connected to the base of the top transistor and the collector of the bottom transistor. The anode lead is required to switch the SCS off.17 SILICON CONTROLLED SWITCH If we take the equivalent circuit for an SCR and add another external terminal. or SCS: (Figure below) The Silicon-Controlled Switch(SCS) This extra terminal allows more control to be exerted over the device. we have a device known as a silicon-controlled-switch.

• An SCS is turned on by applying a positive voltage between the cathode gate and cathode terminals.18 of the SCR. However. both transistors turn on and maintain each other in the "on" mode. The SCS will remain in the off condition until such time that the "on" pushbutton switch is re-actuated. as with an SCR. the load current through an SCS is carried by the anode gate and cathode terminals. or SCS. it breaks the circuit for base current through the top transistor (securing its "off" state). When the lower transistor turns off. It may be turned off (forced commutation) by applying a negative voltage between the anode and cathode terminals. it conducts the motor's load current. The anode terminal must be kept positive with respect to the cathode in order for the SCS to latch. the upper transistor within the SCS will lose its emitter current. with the cathode gate and anode terminals sufficing as control leads. [GE1] If this is done (by actuating the "off" pushbutton switch). is essentially an SCR with an extra gate terminal. • Typically. and the motor starts and runs. . When the lower transistor turns on. and the motor (making it stop). • REVIEW: • A silicon-controlled switch. and this is called natural commutation. The motor may be stopped by interrupting the power supply. or simply by shorting those two terminals together. the SCS provides us with another means of turning off: forced commutation by shorting the anode terminal to the cathode. thus halting current through the base of the lower transistor.

They act as bistable switches. as long as the voltage across the device has not reversed).19 Thyristor An SCR rated about 100 amperes. . conducting when their gate receives a current pulse. (A variant called an SCS—Silicon Controlled Switch—brings all four layers out to terminals. Some sources define silicon controlled rectifiers and thyristors as synonymous. called the gate.) The operation of a thyristor can be understood in terms of a pair of tightly coupled Bipolar Junction Transistors. 1200 volts mounted on a heat sink . is attached to p-type material near to the cathode. and continue to conduct for as long as they are forward biased (that is.the two small wires are the gate trigger leads The thyristor is a solid-state semiconductor device with four layers of alternating N and P-type material. and the control terminal. with each layer consisting of alternately N-type or P-type material. The main terminals. are across the full four layers. Function The thyristor is a four-layer semiconducting device. for example P-N-P-N. arranged to cause the self-latching action. labeled anode and cathode.

no conduction takes place (Off state).20 Thyristors have three states: 1. the thyristor can be switched into the on state suddenly. It should be noted that once avalanche breakdown has occurred. the thyristor continues to conduct. Now if VAK is increased beyond the breakdown voltage VBO of the thyristor. the breakdown of the junction J2 occurs at a lower value of VAK. By selecting an appropriate value of VG. Forward blocking mode — Voltage is applied in the direction that would cause a diode to conduct. Reverse blocking mode — Voltage is applied in the direction that would be blocked by a diode 2. As J2 is reverse biased. while junction J2 is reverse biased. avalanche breakdown of J2 takes place and the thyristor starts conducting (On state). J2. J3 from the anode). junctions J1 and J3 are forward biased. If a positive potential VG is applied at the gate terminal with respect to the cathode. irrespective of the gate voltage. Layer diagram of thyristor. until both: (a) the potential VG is . When the anode is at a positive potential VAK with respect to the cathode with no voltage applied at the gate. Forward conducting mode — The thyristor has been triggered into conduction and will remain conducting until the forward current drops below a threshold value known as the "holding current" Function of the gate terminal The thyristor has three p-n junctions (serially named J1. but the thyristor has not yet been triggered into conduction 3.

Such fast thyristors are made by diffusing into the silicon heavy metals ions such as gold or platinum which act as charge combination centres. These gate pulses are characterized in terms of gate trigger voltage (VGT) and gate trigger current (IGT). After a thyristor has been switched off by forced commutation. In some applications this is done by switching a second thyristor to discharge a capacitor into the cathode of the first thyristor. Hence VG can be a voltage pulse. A thyristor can be switched off if the external circuit causes the anode to become negatively biased.g. thyristors with lower values of tQ are required. fast thyristors may be made by neutron irradiation of the silicon. 50 Hz or 60 Hz). Gate trigger current varies inversely with gate pulse width in such a way that it is evident that there is a minimum gate charge required to trigger the thyristor. the device remains latched in the on-state (i.e. Attempting to positively bias the anode within this time causes the thyristor to be self-triggered by the remaining charge carriers (holes and electrons) that have not yet recombined. Alternatively. once it has been switched on by the gate terminal. This method is called forced commutation. a finite time delay must have elapsed before the anode can be positively biased in the off-state. such as the voltage output from a UJT relaxation oscillator. does not need a continuous supply of gate current to conduct).I characteristics. Switching characteristics In a conventional thyristor. For applications with frequencies higher than the domestic AC mains supply (e. . it cannot be switched off until the anode current falls below the holding current (IH). As long as the anode remains positively biased. This minimum delay is called the circuit commutated turn off time (tQ).21 removed and (b) the current through the device (anode−cathode) is less than the holding current specified by the manufacturer. providing the anode current has exceeded the latching current (IL). V .

applied to AC voltages. referred to as Zero Cross operation. the device is biased fully on. the controller could . flowing only from cathode to anode. for example. It works by modulating a thyristor. or other such gated diode-like devices into and out of conduction at a predetermined phase of the applied waveform. Thyristors are mainly used where high currents and voltages are involved. as the output is unidirectional. it conducts current in phase with the voltage applied over its cathode to anode junction with no further gate modulation being required to replicate. It does this in much the same way that a pulse width modulated (PWM) supply would pulse on and off to create an average value at its output.22 Applications Load voltage regulated by thyristor phase control. also called phase cutting. Here. its time base is of no importance in deciding when to pulse the supply on or off. it becomes important for the supply to pulse on and off at the correct position in the modulation cycle for a known value to be achieved. thyratron. such as the sinusoidal AC waveform that the national grid outputs. If the supply has a DC output. once the device is open. current or power that a power supply feeds to its load. Overview Phase fired control is often used to control the amount of voltage. where the change of polarity of the current causes the device to automatically switch off. and so is asymmetrical in nature. Upper trace: load voltage Lower trace: trigger signal. is a method of pulse width modulation (PWM) for power limiting. SCR. PFC differs from PWM in that it addresses supplies that output a modulated waveform. The device can be said to operate synchronously as. triac. Thyristors can be used as the control elements for phase angle triggered controllers. Phase control (PFC). and are often used to control alternating currents. also known as phase fired controllers. This is not to be confused with symmetrical operation. as the value that will be pulsed on and off is continuous.

'Boosting' by derating To achieve a 'boost' like effect. Output reduction by bucking A phase fired controller. This limited the temperature resolution to the number of tap combinations available. as it is on the national grid's AC mains. minus any losses occurring in the control elements themselves. rather than having to wait for the waveform to pass within the element's Zero Cross Point. the controller delivers a percentage closer to 100% of the maximum input available. . When a boost is required. like a buck topology switched-mode power supply. a fraction of the total energy within each cycle is present at the output. Most phase fired controllers use thyristors or other solid state switching devices as their control elements. a phase fired control simply switches off for a given phase angle of the input's modulation cycle. Thyristor based controllers may utilise Gate Turn Off (GTO) thyristors.23 turn on at the peak of a waveform or at its base if the cycle's time base were not taken into consideration. extremely expensive and heavy multi-tapped transformers were used as the supplies for such elements. the resistance of heating elements can increase. Phase fired controllers take their name from that fact that they trigger a pulse of output at a certain phase of the input's modulation cycle. Applications Previously. a PFC is a PWM controller that can synchronise itself with the modulation present at the input. the PFC designs must be derated such that maximum present at the input is higher than the nominal output requirements. a point after the modulation cycle starts. When the supply is first turned on or operating under nominal conditions. with the corresponding winding tap being connected to the element to produce the desired temperature. the controller will continually be delivering less than 100% of its input. allowing the controller to not only decide when to pulse the output on but also when to turn it off. a phase fired control must be able to provide some degree of extra voltage to draw the same heating current through the element. phase fired controllers is important as they are often used to control resistive loads. such as heating elements. Provided the modulation during each cycle is predictable or repetitive. Derating of mains powered. progressively opening the supply up towards delivering 100% of the input modulation cycle as the elements age. They often find their way into controllers designed for equipment such as electric ovens and furnaces. In essence. to obtain an output lower than its input. Over time. is only able to deliver an output maximum equal to that which is present at its input. By triggering the device into conduction at a phase angle greater than 0 degrees. To account for this. The only way of achieving this is to purposely design the supply to require less than 100% of the input's modulation cycle when the elements are first put in place.

With the controller's output referenced to the Earth. introduced asymmetry into the supply waveform and. when mercury arc valve rectifiers with control grids became available. and when the output voltage of the supply rises above the zener voltage. The precise switching point was determined by the load on the output DC supply as well fluctuations on the input AC supply. this is a serious risk that must be assessed with care. the thyristor conducts. and theater. this method of voltage regulation not very common at the time. in many applications this is prevented by connecting a resistor-capacitor (RC) snubber . where they can be used as a sort of "circuit breaker" or "crowbar" to prevent a failure in the power supply from damaging downstream components. The stabilized high voltage DC supply for the receiver was obtained by moving the switching point of the thyristor device up and down the falling slope of the positive going half of the AC supply input (if the rising slope was used the output voltage would always rise towards the peak input voltage when the device was triggered and thus defeat the aim of regulation). For industrial ovens and furnaces the input is often the national grid AC. This is because removal of the mains transformer means that the load is in direct galvanic contact with the input. However.24 In modern.[citation needed] However realization was first possible in 1920s. with associated triggering diac. They have also been used in photography as a critical part of flashes (strobes). the transformer is replaced with phase fired controllers connecting the load directly to the mains. in consumer products related to stabilized power supplies within color television receivers in the early 1970s. They proved to be unpopular with the AC grid power supplier companies because the simultaneous switching of many television receivers. the method is usually limited to use in equipment that would be unrealistic without it. usually high power. as a consequence injected DC back into the grid with a tendency towards saturation of transformer cores and overheating. Snubber circuits Because thyristors can be triggered on by a high rate of rise of off-state voltage. With many high power pieces of equipment running from three phase 415 V. where they replaced inferior technologies such as autotransformers and rheostats. motion pictures. all at approximately the same time. high current capable inputs and having the entirety of any metallic housing or framework present Earthed (grounded). equipment. because of the limitations mercury arc valves. However. Thyristors can also be found in power supplies for digital circuits. Thyristors have been used for decades as lighting dimmers in television. shorting the power supply output to ground (and in general blowing an upstream fuse). It became widespread with the invention of solid-state thyristors at the end of 1950s. resulting in a substantially cheaper and lighter system. History The first patent for phase fired controllers derives from 1912. which is itself galvanically referenced to the Earth. Thyristors were largely phased out in this kind of application by the end of the decade. The first large scale application of thyristors. The thyristor is used in conjunction with a zener diode attached to its gate. a user need only be in contact with the Earth and one of the output terminals to risk receiving an electrical shock.

it only conducts in one direction. In the realm of this and other very high power applications. where the high power capability of the thyristors and the simplicity of the design can make them a more attractive proposition than transistor based controllers. They remained the predominant type of industrial motor controller until the end of the 1980s when the availability of low cost electronics led to their replacement by chopper drives for high performance systems and inverters for high reliability with AC motors. such as locomotives. reactive loads can cause it to fail to turn .. Motor Speed Control using Thytistor drives A thyristor drive is a motor drive circuit where AC supply current is regulated by a thyristor phase control to provide variable voltage to a DC motor. both electronically switched (ETT) and light switched (LTT) thyristors[4] are still the primary choice. though. Thyristor drives are very simple and were first introduced in the 1960s. like a diode. called a TRIAC. They are still employed in very high power applications. thyristor valves have become the heart of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) conversion either to or from alternating current. Because the TRIAC can conduct in both directions. such as electric drills. and the entire arrangement becomes one of multiple identical modules forming a layer in a multilayer valve stack called a quadruple valve. and small AC powered tools. rate of change of voltage versus time). A similar self-latching 5-layer device.25 circuit between the anode and cathode terminals in order to limit the dV/dt (i. also can become a shortfall. The valves are arranged in stacks usually suspended from the ceiling of a transmission building called a valve hall. such as food mixers. HVDC electricity transmission Since modern thyristors can switch power on the scale of megawatts. This added capability. Each thyristor is cooled with deionized water. Thyristors are arranged into a Graetz bridge circuit and to avoid harmonics are connected in series to form a 12 pulse converter. A derivative of the thyristor drive is the simple AC phase controller. Three such stacks are typically hung from the ceiling of the valve building of a long distance transmission facility. This is the type of motor speed control most commonly used in domestic appliances. This uses a single phase controlled triac to provide a variable voltage AC output for regulating a universal motor.[5][6] Comparisons to other devices The functional drawback of a thyristor is that.e. is able to work in both directions.

on the other hand. have much faster switching capability because of their unipolar conduction (only majority carriers carry the current). current or power ratings. unlike TRIACs. An earlier gas filled tube device called a Thyratron provided a similar electronic switching capability. thyristors have their own particular modes of failure. The "price" to be paid for this arrangement. Because of this. In high-frequency applications. use of TRIACs with (for example) heavily-inductive motor loads usually requires the use of a "snubber" circuit around the TRIAC to assure that it will turn off with each halfcycle of mains power. MOSFETs. Silicon carbide thyristors In recent years. Inverse parallel SCRs can also be used in place of the triac. It is from a combination of "thyratron" and "transistor" that the term "thyristor" is derived. The GTO (Gate Turn-off Thyristor) and IGCT are two related devices which address this problem. being capable of operating at temperatures up to 350 °C. thyristors are poor candidates due to large switching times arising from bipolar conduction. Although thyristors are heavily used in megawatt scale rectification of AC to DC. Failure modes As well as the usual failure modes due to exceeding voltage. Forced commutation — in which the transient peak reverse recovery current causes such a high voltage drop in the sub-cathode region that it exceeds the reverse breakdown voltage of the gate cathode diode junction (SCRs only). however. because each SCR in the pair has an entire half-cycle of reverse polarity applied to it. where a small control voltage could switch a large current. are sure to turn off. in low and medium power (from few tens of watts to few tens of kilowatts) they have almost been replaced by other devices with superior switching characteristics like MOSFETs or IGBTs. some manufacturers have developed thyristors using Silicon carbide (SiC) as the semiconductor material. the SCRs. is the added complexity of two separate but essentially identical gating circuits. These have applications in high temperature environments. .26 off during the zero-voltage instants of the ac power cycle. One major problem associated with SCRs is that they are not fully controllable switches. including: • • Turn on di/dt — in which the rate of rise of on-state current after triggering is higher than can be supported by the spreading speed of the active conduction area (SCRs & triacs).

. used in protection applications TRIAC — Triode for Alternating Current — A bidirectional switching device containing two thyristor structures GTO — Gate Turn-Off thyristor IGCT — Integrated Gate Commutated Thyristor o MA-GTO — Modified Anode Gate Turn-Off thyristor o DB-GTO — Distributed Buffer Gate Turn-Off thyristor MCT — MOSFET Controlled Thyristor — It contains two additional FET structures for on/off control.27 Types of thyristors • • • • • • • • • • • SCR — Silicon Controlled Rectifier ASCR — Asymmetrical SCR RCT — Reverse Conducting Thyristor LASCR — Light Activated SCR. o BRT — Base Resistance Controlled Thyristor SITh — Static Induction Thyristor. with an 8-function setup. or FCTh — Field Controlled Thyristor containing a gate structure that can shut down anode current flow. or LTT — Light triggered thyristor DIAC & SIDAC — Both forms of trigger devices BOD — Breakover Diode — A gateless thyristor triggered by avalanche current. LASS — Light Activated Semiconducting Switch The GTO is a tri state device.

Once the voltage exceeds the turn-on threshold.28 DIACS The DIAC. usually. unlike some other thyristors they are commonly used to trigger. This behavior is bidirectional. the resistance of the diode abruptly decreases. The diode remains "in conduction" until the current flow through it drops below a value characteristic for the device. Some TRIACs contain a built-in DIAC in series with the TRIAC's "gate" terminal for this purpose. meaning typically the same for both directions of current flow. Below this value. called the holding current. their behavior is somewhat similar to (but much more precisely controlled and taking place at lower voltages than) a neon lamp. . a sharp increase in current flow through the diode. the device turns on and the voltage rapidly falls while the current increases. is a trigger diode that conducts current only after its breakdown voltage has been exceeded momentarily. or diode for alternating current. In this way. Typical Diac voltage and current relationships. When this occurs. DIACs have no gate electrode. Most DIACs have a breakdown voltage around 30 V. such as TRIACs. the diode switches back to its high-resistance (non-conducting) state. leading to a sharp decrease in the voltage drop across the diode and.

29 DIACs are also called symmetrical trigger diodes due to the symmetry of their characteristic curve. A diac is a two-electrode. their terminals are not labeled as anode and cathode but as A1 and A2 or MT1 ("Main Terminal") and MT2. Because DIACs are bidirectional devices. three-layer bidirectional avalanche diode that can be switched from the off state to the on state for either polarity of applied voltage. .

Triacs are three-terminal silicon devices that function as two SCRs configured in an inverse. as shown in Fig. universal motor-speed control. and similar applications. The equal doping levels result in a symmetrical bidirectional switching characteristic. the device exhibits a negative-resistance characteristic. 19 shows the voltage-current characteristic. current through the device increases substantially with decreasing voltage. beyond this point. Fig.e. heat control. but differs from it in that the doping concentrations at the two junctions are approximately the same and there is no contact made to the base layer. SCRs are four-layer (PNPN) thyristors with an input terminal (gate). 18 shows the junction diagram and schematic symbol for a diac. 20 shows the general circuit diagram for a diac/triac phase-control circuit. When. i. so as to provide load current during both halves of the AC supply voltage. Diacs are bidirectional diodes that switch AC voltages and trigger silicon controlled rectifiers (SCRs) and triacs. which are similar to open base NPN transistors.30 Fig.. . parallel arrangement. Fig. 19. Diacs. This three-layer trigger diode is similar in construction to a bipolar transistor. The reverse-biased junction then undergoes avalanche breakdown and. Except for a small leakage amount. Diacs are primarily used as triggering devices in thyristor phase-control circuits used for light dimming. and a common terminal (cathode) for both the input and output. exhibit a high-impedance blocking state up to a voltage breakover point above which negative resistance is achieved. an output terminal (anode). an increasing positive or negative voltage is applied across the terminals of the diac. a minimum (leakage) current I (BO)flows through the device until the voltage reaches the breakover point V(BO).

including all repetitive transient currents. Measured during the “on” state. There are also four layer devices with a similar mode of operation known as four-layer diodes. Breakover voltage symmetry ( VBO) is the maximum breakover voltage range with a specified capacitance when diacs are connected in parallel. Breakover voltage (VBO). Repetitive peak on-state current (ITRM) is the maximum limiting peak on-state current. for which diacs are rated. Because they are bidirectional. breakover current. Performance specifications for diacs include breakover voltage. output voltage. Diac A diac is a form of solid-state switch used to switch AC voltage. and power dissipation.31 diacs do not conduct current until a breakover voltage is attained. It is like a junction transistor without a base lead (it is a two-lead device) and accomplishes its switching action by breakdown at a certain voltage. output voltage (VO) is the voltage across a 20-ohm resistor in series with a diac during the discharge of a specified capacitor. is measured between the input and output terminals when diacs switch on. diacs are used as firing devices in phase control such as light dimmers and motion speed controls. Power dissipation (Pd) is the power dissipated by diacs during the “on” state. Triac . the voltage at which diacs begin to conduct. breakover voltage symmetry. it belongs to the class of switches known as thyristers. repetitive peak on-state current.

The TRIAC conducts currents in both directions while the SCR allows current in only one direction. Since a trigger can cause it to trigger current in either direction. . Examples are the silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) which conducts current in one direction and the triac which is a double SCR which conducts in both directions. Thyristers Thyrister is the name given to semiconductor switches in which a large current can be switched by a small gate current. A small current in the gate electrode can turn on the current. motor speed control and other variable power applications The silicon-controlled rectifier is like a junction transistor with a fourth layer and therefore three p-n junctions. The two outer junctions are forward biased by the voltage as shown. and it will stay on until the driving voltage is removed. They are usually three-lead devices where the gate signal on one lead controls the current between the other leads. it is an efficient power controller from essentially zero to full power. then it can be turned on by a pulse and remain on until the end of that half cycle. then blocks flow until the next trigger occurs. It is called a rectifier because it conducts current in only direction. the triac conducts until the AC voltage applied reaches zero. In response to a trigger.32 The triode AC switch (TRIAC) is a power-switching device as is the SCR. but the inner junction is reverse biased. There are some two lead varieties like the diac in which a zener type breakdown provides the trigger to start conduction. A common application is for lighting controllers. Timed 60 Hz triggers can by used to control power by changing the trigger point within the half cycle. Silicon Controlled Rectifier The SCR is a power-switching device commonly used for lighting control. If AC voltage is applied.

Two ohmic contacts B1 and B2 are attached at its ends. • The programmable unijunction transistor. The emitter is of p-type and it is heavily doped. defining the device parameter η. or PUT. is a close cousin to the thyristor. The resistance between B1 and B2. when the emitter is open-circuit is called interbase resistance. Like the thyristor it consists of four P-N layers and has an anode and . or UJT. There are two types of unijunction transistor: • The original unijunction transistor. is a simple device that is essentially a bar of N type semiconductor material into which P type material has been diffused somewhere along its length. The UJT has three terminals: an emitter (E) and two bases (B1 and B2). The base is formed by lightly doped n-type bar of silicon.33 UJT’s and PUT’s Unijunction transistor Circuit symbol A unijunction transistor (UJT) is an electronic semiconductor device that has only one junction. The 2N2646 is the most commonly used version of the UJT.

and a gate connected to one of the inner layers. This causes a potential drop along the length of the device. and characteristic curve are shown below. current will begin to flow from the emitter into the base region. Once Vp is reached the base circuit conducts and a postive pulse appears at the B1 terminal and a negative pulse at B2.34 a cathode connected to the first and the last layer. especially in simple oscillator circuits. It is a pulse generator with the trigger or control signal applied at the emitter . This reduction in resistance means that the emitter junction is more forward biased. They are not directly interchangeable with conventional UJTs but perform a similar function. bipolar transistor. a low emitter current. a DC voltage can be used to control a UJT or PUT circuit such that the "onperiod" increases with an increase in the DC control voltage. When the emitter voltage is driven approximately one diode voltage above the voltage at the point where the P diffusion (emitter) is. they behave like a conventional UJT. The 2N6027 is an example of such a device. TRIAC. This application is important for large AC current control. Later. and so even more current is injected. This is what makes the UJT useful. one of the most important applications of UJTs or PUTs are to trigger thyristors (SCR. junction schematic. Unijunction transistor circuits were popular in hobbyist electronics circuits in the 1970's and early 1980's because they allowed simple oscillators to be built using just one active device.The UJT circuit symbol. The UJT is biased with a positive voltage between the two bases. as Integrated Circuits became more popular. Overall. A simple RC timer circuit using a UJT is shown below. Vbb. In addition to its use as the active device in relaxation oscillators. The UJT incorporates a negative resistance region. Because the base region is very lightly doped. the effect is a negative resistance at the emitter terminal. In a proper circuit configuration with two "programming" resistors for setting the parameter η. The emitter terminal does not inject current into the base region until its voltage reaches Vp. making it an ideal pulse trigger. the additional current (actually charges in the base region) causes conductivity modulation which reduces the resistance of the portion of the base between the emitter junction and the B2 terminal. This trigger voltage is a fraction (n) of interbase voltage. and a high output pulse current at terminals B1 and B2. Unijunction Transistor The unijunction transistor(UJT) is a three terminal device with characteristics very different from the conventional 2 junction. In fact. .). oscillators such as the 555 timer IC became more commonly used. etc.

The maximum interbase voltage that can be applied to the UJT (b) Rbb-the interbase resistance of the UJT (c) n .The intrinsic standoff ratio which defines Vp.35 The very basic specifications of a UJT are: (a) Vbb(max) .The peakpoint emitter current . (d) Ip .

6 or 3. 2.2 volts. Increasing the emitter voltage further will further increase the emitter current. to about 3.2 volts the emitterbase1 junction of the diode gets forward biased and at the peak point voltage.2 volts. Beyond this if the emitter voltage is increased more than 3. Under this condition onwards. And after this the only way to make the UJT start conducting is increase the emitter voltage until the “diode” at the emitter . at about 7. say. still keeps the UJT in full conduction or saturation. the current drops down to 0mA (or for that matter the emitter current takes on the reverse direction of the order of microamps). is to reduce the emitter voltage and make it less than 3. This observed change is as follows: From Peak Point Voltage of 7. Reducing this voltage and making it 3 volts. etc and further. some more information: As observed during plotting of the characteristics. the voltage falls down to the Valley Point Voltage which is about 3. there is a sudden and quick changeover. The only way to therefore bring down this saturation current flowing through the device when Valley Point Voltage is reached. This lowering of the emitter voltage below the Valley Point Voltage is necessary. from the peak point voltage. The rise in the emitter current level is from 0 mA. 3.8 volts. 2.2 volts. in the sense that the emitter current rises sharply and the emitter voltage drops down to the valley point voltage.6 volts. The characteristics from the Peak Point Voltage up to the Valley Point Voltage represents the negative resistance region. as the emitter voltage is increased gradually upwards from 0 volts.2 volts or so.8 volts. and somewhere around 2.4 mA. in order to bring the UJT out of the breakdown state.2 volts.4 or 3.36 UJT CHARACTERISTICS …. the UJT emitter-base 1 junction is in saturation region. correspondingly the emitter current also increases (following ohms law). in practice.

PUT PROGRAMMABLE UJT The Programmable Unijunction Transistor behaves much like a unijunction transistor (UJT). motor speed control and other variable power applications. this current becomes base current for the other transistor. In combination with an SCR they can. but is "programmable" via external resistors (that is. make a mean solar engine. This means you can . you can build up something much like a PUT from discrete transistors wired as a complementary feedback pair: Here. at which conduction starts and breakdown takes place again. Note that the name is a bit of a misnomer -. and both transistors turn on hard. the gate (G). makes a PUT function like a hybrid of transistor and diode: PUTs are essentially special-purpose devices in electronics.as a thyristor. you can use two resistors to set a PUT's peak voltage). a third terminal. as soon as any current flows in either transistor. In a pinch. though. Meanwhile. it is a four layer device. unlike a true unijunction transistor which has but two layers. a PUT looks much like a junction transistor with a fourth layer and therefore a total of three P-N junctions. Like other thyristors.37 junction becomes forward biased. used for lighting control.

the intrinsic stand-off ratio Ƞ and peak-point voltage VP. the device is turned on. The four-layer construction shown in figure indicates that the anode-gate junction is forward biased when the anode becomes positive with respect to gate. VG = (RB1 / RB1 + RB2 ) VBB = Ƞ VBB Consider figure The P-N-P-N device shown in figure has its gate connected to the junction of external resistors RB and RB . When this occurs. The term “programmable” is applied because the inter base resistance RBB. it is essentially an SCR with a control mechanism that permits a duplication of the characteristics of the typical SCR. and the device conducts heavily until the input voltage become too low to sustain conduction. as defined in UJT can be programmed to any desired values through external resistors R B and RB2 and the supply voltage VBB. The anode of the device acts as the emitter of UJT. The basic structure. The anode-to-cathode voltage VAK then drops to a low level. The fact that the V-I characteristics and applications of both are similar prompted the choice of labels. As the symbol indicates. schematic symbol and the basic biasing arrangement of PUT are shown in figures respectively. It is also a four-layer P-N-P-N solid-state device with a gate connected directly to the sandwiched N-type layer. It is seen that this action stimulates the performance of a UJT. .38 only build up this circuit using low-leakage transistors ('though this should be the case with any decent-quality modern transistor ). Programmable UJT Programmable UJT The programmable unijunction transistor (PUT) is not a unijunction transistor at all. From figure we see that by voltage divider rule when IG = 0.

The firing or peak-point potential is given as VP = Ƞ VBB + VB as defined for the UJT. For silicon VB is typically 0. Although the characteristics of the PUT and UJT are similar. the minimum operating voltage of PUT is also lower than that of UJT. Application of PUT PUT Relaxation Oscillator . However VP represents the voltage drop VAK in figure [ the forward voltage drop across the conducting diode]. In PUT RB1 and RB2 are the external resistors to the device permitting the adjustment of Ƞ and hence VG while in the UJT both RB1 and RB2 represent the bulk resistance and ohmic base contacts of the device (both inaccessible). In addition. the peak and valley currents of the PUT are typically lower than those of a UJT of a similar rating.7 V.39 Characteristics of Programmable UJT The typical characteristics of the device are shown in figure.

peak repetitive forward current. DC gate current. Consequently. gate-to-cathode forward voltage. but also a circuit transistor such as a programmable unijunction transistor. power dissipation. and peak current can be programmed by setting the values of two external resistors. An integrated circuit can include not only an integrated circuit chip. the capacitor starts charging toward VBB volts. The time period required to attain the firing potential VP is given approximately by the expression T = RC loge = VBB / VBB – VP = Ƞ VBB At the point of firing of PUT IP R = VBB – VP If R is too large. Hence. anode-to-cathode voltage. the PUT turns off and the charging cycle starts all over again as narrated above. operating junction temperature. The instant the supply VBB is switched on. operating characteristics such as base-to-base resistance. One popular application of PUT is in the relaxation oscillator shown in figure. . and the device will not fire So RMAX = VBB – VP / IP Similarly RMIN = VBB – VV / IV VBB – VP / IP > R > VBB – VV / IV Programmable uni-junction transistors (PUT) are three-terminal thyristors that are triggered into conduction when the voltage at the anode exceeds the voltage at the gate. A PUT is a more advanced version of a unijunction transistor (UJT). since there is no anode current at this point. Performance specifications for programmable unijunction transistors (PUT) include peak current (with RG of 10K ohms and 1M ohms). peak repetitive forward current. a voltage spike is produced across RK during the discharge. gate-to-anode reverse voltage. with frequencies up to 10 kHz. pulse. The PUT is similar to the UJT. DC forward anode current.40 PUT. Applications for programmable unijunction transistors (PUT) include thyristor triggers. peak non-repetitive forward current. but its intrinsic standoff ratio can be set by two external resistors. The instant the voltage across the capacitor equals VP. valley current. replaces UJT. the name "programmable" is used. oscillators. gate-to-cathode reverse voltage. As soon as the capacitor C gets discharged. and timing circuits. such as automatic insertion equipment. In a programmable unijunction transistor. the capacitor starts discharging rapidly through the low on-resistance of the PUT and RK. the current IP cannot be established. valley current (with RG of 10K ohms and 1M ohms). Programmable unijunction transistors (PUT) can be packaged individually or in standard packaging for high-volume requirements. intrinsic standoff voltage. because of its superiority over UJT. As soon as the device fires. storage temperature. the device fires and anode current IA = IP is established through the PUT.

41 THYRISTOR / SCR THEORY As stated before, Bell Laboratories were the first to fabricate a silicon-based semiconductor device called thyristor. Its first prototype was introduced by GEC (USA) in 1957. This company did a great deal of pioneering work about the utility of thyristors in industrial applications. Later on, many other devices having characteristics similar to that of a thyristor were developed. These semiconductor devices, with their characteristics identical with that of a thyristor, are triac, diac, silicon-controlled switch, programmable unijunction transistor (PUT), GTO, RCT etc. This whole family of semiconductor devices is given the name thyristor. Thus the term thyristor denotes a family of semiconductor devices used for power control in dc and ac systems. One oldest member of this thyristor family, called silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR), is the most widely used device. At present, the use of SCR is so vast that over the years, the word thyristor has become synonymous with SCR. It appears that the term thyristor is now becoming more common than the actual term SCR. In this book, the term SCR and thyristor will be used at random for the same device SCR. Other members of thyristor family are also discussed in this category. A thyristor has characteristics similar to a thyratron tube. But from the construction view point, a thyristor (a pnpn device) belongs to transistor (pnp or npn device) family. The name ‘thyristor’, is derived by a combination of the capital letters from THYRatron and transISTOR. This means that thyristor is a solid state device like a transistor and has characteristics similar to that of a thyratron tube. The present-day reader may not be familiar with thyratron tube as this is not being taught these days. MOS CONTROLLED THYRISTOR An MCT is a new device in the field of semiconductor-controlled devices. It is basically a thyristor with two MOSFETs built into the gate structure. One MOSFET is used for turning on the MCT and the other for turning off the device. An MCT is a high-frequency, high:power, low-conduction drop switching device. An MCT combines into it the features of both conventional four-layer thyristor having regenerative action and MOS-gate structure. However, in MCT, anode is the reference with respect to which, all gate signals are applied. In a conventional SCR, cathode is the reference terminal for gate signals.

42 The equivalent circuit of MCT is shown in Fig. 2.21 (a). It consists of one on-FET, one off-FET and two transistors. The on-FET is ap-channel MOSFET and off-FET is an rc-channel MOSFET. An arrow towards the gate terminal indicates n-channel MOSFET and the arrow away from the gate terminal as the p-channel MOSFET. The two transistors in the equivalent circuit indicate that there is regenerative feedback in the MCT just as it is in an ordinary thyristor. Fig. 2.21 (6) gives the circuit symbol of an MCT An MCT is turned-on by a negative voltage pulse at the gate with respect to the anode and is turned-off by a positive voltage pulse. Working of MCT can be understood better by referring to Fig. 2.21 (a). Turn-on process. As stated above, MCT is turned on by applying a negative voltage pulse at the gate with respect to anode. In other words, for turning on MCT, gate is made negative with respect to anode by the voltage pulse between gate and anode. With the application of this negative voltage pulse, on-FET gets >turned-on and offFET is off. With on-FET on, current begins to flow from anode A, through on-FET and then as the base current and emitter current of npn transistor and then to cathode C. This turns on npn transistor. As a result, collector current begins to flow in npn transistor. As off-FET is off, this collector current of npn transistor acts as the base current of pnp transistor. Subsequently, pnp transistor is also turned on. Once both the transistors are on, regenerative action of the connection scheme takes place and the thyristor or MCT is turned on.

Note that on-FET and pnp transistor are in parallel when thyristor is in conduction state. During the time MCT is on, base current of npn transistor flows mainly through pnp transistor because of its better conducting property. Turn-off process. For turning-off the MCT, off-FET (or n -channel MOSFET) is energized by positive voltage pulse at the gate. With the application of positive voltage pulse, off-FET is turned on and on-FET is turned off. After off-FET is turned on, emitter-base terminals of pnp transistor are short circuited by off-FET So now anode current begins to flow through off’-FET and therefore base current of pnp transistor begins to decrease. Further, collector current of pnp transistor that forms the base current of npn transistor also begins to decrease. As a consequence, base currents of both pnp and npn transistors, now devoid of stored charge in their n and p bases respectively, begin to decay. This regenerative action eventually turns off the MCT.

43 An MCT has the following merits : (i) Low forward conduction drop,

(ii) fast turn-on and turn-off times, (iii) low switching losses and (iv) high gate input impedance, which allows simpler design of drive circuits.

An MCT is a brand-new device which is likely to be available commercially very soon. As it possesses highly adaptable features for its use as a switching device, it seems to have tremendous scope for its widespread applications. Its potential applications include dc and ac motor drives, UPS systems, induction heating, dc-dc converters, power line conditioners etc. It may, in the near future, challenge the existence of most of the available devices like - resistors, GTOs, BJTs, IGBTs (7). NEW SEMICONDUCTING MATERIALS At present, silicon enjoys monopoly as a semiconductor material for the commercial production of power-control devices. This is because silicon is cheaply available and semiconductor devices of any size can be easily fabricated on a single silicon chip. There are, however, new types of materials like gallium arsenic (GaAs), silicon carbide and diamond which possess the desirable properties required for switching devices. At present, state-of-the-art technology for these materials is primitive compared with silicon, and many more years of research investment are required before these materials become commercially viable for the production of powercontrolled devices. Superconductive materials may also be used in the manufacture of such devices, but work in this direction has not yet been reported. Germanium is not used in the fabrication of thyristors because of the following reasons: 1. Germanium has much lower thermal conductivity; its thermal resistance is, therefore, more. As a consequence, germanium thyristors suffer from more losses, more temperature rise and therefore lower operating life. 2. Its breakdown voltage is much less than that of silicon. It means that germanium thyristor can be built for small voltage ratings only. 3. Germanium is much costlier than silicon. TERMINAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A THYRISTOR Thyristor is a four layer, three-junction, p-n-p-n semiconductor switching device. It has three terminals ; anode, cathode and gate. Fig. 4.1 (a) gives constructional details of a typical thyristor. Basically, a thyristor consists of four layers of alternate p-type and n-type silicon semiconductors forming three junctions J1, J2 and J3 as shown in Fig. 4.1 (a). The threaded portion is for the purpose of tightening the thyristor to the frame or heat sink with the help of a nut. Gate terminal is usually kept near the cathode terminal Fig. 4.1 (a). Schematic diagram and circuit symbol for a thyristor are shown respectively in Figs. 4.1 (b) and (c). The terminal connected to outer p region is called anode (A), the terminal connected to outer n region is called cathode and that

Such a high power thyristor can be switched on by a low voltage supply of about 1 A and 10 W and this gives us an idea of the immense power amplification capability (= 3 x 106) of this device. namely. This is reverse blocking . reverse blocking mode.3 (a). K and Ia is the anode current. this is achieved to a great extent by mounting them onto heat sinks. For large current applications.2 (b) shows static V-I characteristics of a thyristor. they are compact. Because of these useful features. 4. SCR rating has improved considerably since its introduction in 1957. 4. Unlike the diode. Here Va is the anode voltage across thyristor terminals A. The device behaves as if two diodes are connected in series with reverse voltage applied across them. an SCR is an unidirectional device that blocks the current flow from cathode to anode.44 connected to inner p region is called the gate (G). their static V-I characteristics. A small leakage current of the order of a few milliamperes (or a few microamperes depending upon the SCR rating) flows. 4.2 (a). dynamic characteristics during turn-on and turn-off processes and their gate characteristics are discussed. In this article. Typical SCR V-I characteristic shown in Fig. thyristors need better cooling . Fig.2 (a).2 (b) reveals that a thyristor has three basic modes of operation . Like the diode. forward blocking (off-state) mode and forward conduction (on-state) mode. possess high reliability and have low loss. For engineering applications of thyristors. STATIC CHARACTERISTICS OF A THYRISTOR An elementary circuit diagram for obtaining static V-I characteristics of a thyristor is shown in Fig. Junctions J1 J3 are seen to be reverse biased whereas junction J2 is forward biased. a thyristor also blocks the current flow from anode to cathode until it is triggered into conduction by a proper gate signal between gate and cathode terminals. These three modes of operation are now discussed below : Reverse Blocking Mode: When cathode is made positive with respect to anode with switch S open. The gate and cathode are fed from a source Es which provides positive gate current from gate to cathode. 4. 4. As SCRs are solid state devices. Fig. their terminal characteristics must be known. thyristor is reverse biased as shown in Fig. Now SCRs of voltage rating 10 kV and an rms current rating of 3000 A with corresponding power-handling capacity of 30 MW are available. An SCR is so called because silicon is used for its construction and its operation as a rectifier (very low resistance in the forward conduction and very high resistance in the reverse direction) can be controlled. SCR is almost universally employed these days for all high power-controlled devices. The anode and cathode are connected to main source through the load.

called the off-state. In case the forward voltage is increased. a large anode current associated with avalanche breakdown at VBR would cause substantial voltage drop across load and as a result.2 (b) and 4. the device offers a high impedance in the reverse direction. In case load resistance is present. then at a critical breakdown level. It should. This may lead to thyristor damage as the junction temperature may exceed its permissible temperature rise. In this mode. flows as shown in Figs. A large current associated with VBR gives rise to more losses in the SCR. of the thyristor. J3 are forward biased but junction J2 is reverse biased. called forward leakage current.45 mode. 4.3 (b). V-I characteristic in third quadrant would bend to the right of vertical line drawn at VBR. The SCR in the reverse blocking mode may therefore be treated as an open switch. If the reverse voltage is increased. Forward Blocking Mode : When anode is positive with respect to the cathode. therefore. Fig. thyristor is said to be forward biased as shown in Fig. Note that V-I characteristic after avalanche breakdown during reverse blocking mode is applicable only when load resistance is zero. When reverse voltage applied across a thyristor is less than VBR. an avalanche occurs at J1 and J3 and the reverse current increases rapidly. be ensured that maximum working reverse voltage across a thyristor does not exceed VBR. It is seen from this figure that junctions J1. with gate circuit open.2 (b). 4. a small current. 4. called reverse breakdown voltage VBR.3 (b). then the reverse biased junction J2 will have an avalanche breakdown at a voltage called forward .

TURNING ON THE THYRISTOR: With anode positive with respect to cathode. thyristor is in on-state and behaves like a closed switch. SCR offers a high impedance. Therefore. A thyristor is brought from forward blocking mode to forward conduction mode by turning it on by exceeding the forward breakover voltage or by applying a gate pulse between gate and cathode. As stated before. a thyristor can be turned on by any one of the following techniques : (a) Forward voltage triggering (c) dv/dt triggering (e)Light triggering.2 (b) that this voltage drop increases slightly with an increase in anode current. Therefore. As other junctions J1. it is found that VBR is slightly more than VB0. thyristor conducts currents from anode to cathode with a very small voltage drop across it. the reverse biased junction J2 will break. (b) gate triggering (d)Temperature triggering .46 breakover voltage VB0. The SCR can now be turned off only by reducing the anode current below a certain value called holding current (defined later). These methods of turning-on a thyristor are now discussed one after the other. In practice. In conduction mode. 4. Therefore. junction J2 looses its reverse blocking capability. This is known as avalanche breakdown and the voltage at which avalanche occurs is called forward breakover voltage VB0. this forward current is limited by the load impedance. (a) Forward Voltage Triggering: When anode to cathode forward voltage is increased with gate circuit open. Forward Conduction Mode : In this mode. In this mode. the transition from offstate to on-state obtained by exceeding VB0 is never employed as it may destroy the device. a thyristor can be treated as an open switch even in the forward blocking mode. large forward anode-current flows. It may be seen from Fig. This small voltage drop v T across the device is due to ohmic drop in the four layers. After the avalanche breakdown. thyristor changes from off-state (high voltage with low leakage current) to on-state characterised by low voltage across thyristor with large forward current. J3 are already forward biased. anode current is limited by load impedance alone as voltage drop across SCR is quite small. When forward voltage is less than VBO. Voltage drop across thyristor in the on state is of the order of 1 to 2 V depending on the rating of SCR. forward breakover voltage is taken as the final voltage rating of the device during the design of SCR applications. if the anode voltage is reduced below VB0 SCR will continue conduction of the current. At this voltage. In practice. The magnitudes of forward and reverse breakover voltages are nearly the same and both are temperature dependent. breakdown of junction J2 allows free movement of carriers across three junctions and as a result.

4. oy and oz.as a consequence thyristor will get turned on at a much lower forward applied voltage. forward breakover voltage. As a result. Once the SCR is conducting a forward current. However. This means that thyristor will remain in forward blocking state with normal working voltage across anode and cathode and with gate open. a positive gate voltage between gate and cathode is applied. Fig. no gate current is required for the device to remain in on-state.47 (b) Gate Triggering : Turning on of thyristors by gate triggering is simple. gate P layer is flooded with electrons from the cathode. For Igl . Higher the gate current. some of these electrons reach junction J2. Typical gate current magnitudes are of the order of 20 to 200 mA. forward breakover voltage is still further reduced. As the thyristor is forward biased. reliable and efficient. lower is the forward breakover voltage When positive gate current is applied. This is because cathode N layer is heavily doped as compared to gate P layer. reverse biased junction J2 no longer exists. when turn-on of a thyristor is required. Therefore. The effect of gate current on the forward breakover voltage of a thyristor can also be illustrated by means of a curve as shown in Fig. the magnitude of gate current is more than the minimum gate current required to turn on the SCR. This causes the junction J2 to breakdown at an applied voltage lower than forward breakover voltage VB0. 4. forward breakover voltage remains almost constant at VB0. The forward voltage at which the device switches to on-state depends upon the magnitude of gate current.2 (b) shows that for gate current Ig = 0. Ig2 and Ig3 the values of forward breakover voltages are ox. the conduction of current from anode to . For gate currents Ig1 . more electrons will reach junction J2 . if the gate current is removed.2 (b). For Ig < oa. width of depletion layer around junction J2 is reduced. If magnitude of gate current is increased. the curve marked Ig = 0 is actually for gate current less than oa. or turn-on voltage is less than VB0 For Ig2 > Ig1 . it is therefore the most usual method of firing the forward biased SCRs. In Fig. With gate current thus established. forward breakover voltage is VB0. 4. A thyristor with forward breakover voltage (say 800 V) higher than the normal working voltage (say 400 V) is chosen. respectively as shown. 4. charges are injected into the inner p layer and voltage at which forward breakover occurs is reduced. As such. In practice.

if gate current is reduced to zero before the rising anode current attains a value. Note that latching current is associated with turn-on process and holding current with turnoff process. However. most of the applied voltage appears across reverse biased junction J2. The light . The gate pulse width should therefore be judiciously chosen to ensure that anode current rises above the latching current. Let the capacitance of this junction be Cj. Sometimes a combination of both light source and gate signal is used to trigger an SCR. gate loses control. In industrial applications. Q1 In case rate of rise of anode voltage is large. With increase in temperature. the thyristor will turnoff again. If the intensity of this light thrown on the recess exceeds a certain value.48 cathode remains unaffected. α1+ α2 will approach unity leading to eventual switching action of the thyristor. LASCR may be triggered with a light source or with a gate signal. For any capacitor. For this. The latching current is higher than the holding current. (d) Temperature Triggering : During forward blocking. i = C dv/dt. Thus holding current may be defined as the minimum value of anode current below which it must fall for turning-off the thyristor. a recess (or niche) is made in the inner p-layer as shown in Fig. This voltage across junction J2 associated with leakage current may raise the temperature of this junction. (e) Light Triggering: For light-triggered SCRs. The thyristor can be turned-off (or the thyristor can be returned to forward blocking state) only if the forward current falls below a low-level current called the holding current. now a beam of light directed at the inner p-layer junction turns on the SCR. This cumulative process may turn on the SCR at some high temperature. leakage current through junction J2 further increases. free charge carriers (holes and electrons) are generated just like when gate signal is applied between gate and cathode. When this recess is irradiated. 4. Thus latching current may be defined as the minimum value of anode current which it must attain during turn-on process to maintain conduction when gate signal is removed. IC1 will induce emitter current in Q2. the gate is biased with voltage or current slightly less than that required to turn it on. Such a thyristor is known as lightactivated SCR (LASCR). The pulse of light of appropriate wavelength is guided by optical fibres for irradiation. holding current (typically 10 mA) is almost taken as zero. the emitter currents will be large and as a result. Once the thyristor is conducting. It is usual to take latching current as two to three times the holding current . called the latching current. (c) dv/dt Triggering : dv/dt triggering : The reversed biased junction J2 behaves like a capacitor because of the space-charge present there. forward-biased SCR is turned on.5 (a).In case it is assumed that entire forward voltage va appears across reverse biased junction J2 then charging current across the junction is given by i = Cj dva /dt This charging or displacement current across junction J2 is collector currents of Q2 and Q1 Currents IC2.

it is . Once the thyristor is on. In order to obviate such an occurrence. lower the light intensity required.49 intensity required to turn-on the SCR depends upon the voltage bias given to the gate. Light-triggered thyristors have now been used in high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems. first switching characteristics during turn-on are described and then the switching characteristics during turn-off Switching Characteristics during Turn-off Thyristor turn-off means that it has changed from on to off state and is capable of blocking the forward voltage. The SCR can be turned off by reducing the anode current below holding current . If forward voltage is applied to the SCR at the moment its anode current falls to zero. switching. This dynamic process of the SCR from conduction state to forward blocking state is called commutation process or turn-off process. characteristics of thyristors are discussed. In this part of the section. a thyristor is subjected to different voltages across it and different currents through it. Higher the voltage (or current) bias. Here. During turn-on and turn-off processes. The time variations of the voltage across a thyristor and the current through it during turn-on and turn-off processes give the dynamic or switching characteristics of a thyristor. Static characteristics of a thyristor have already been examined. gate loses control. the device will not be able to block this forward voltage as the carriers (holes and electrons) in the four layers are still favourable for conduction. TURNING OFF THE THYRISTOR (COMMUTATION): Static and switching characteristics of thyristors are always taken into consideration for economical and reliable design of converter equipment. dynamic or transient. In these several SCRs are connected in series-parallel combination and their light-triggering has the advantage of electrical isolation between power and control circuits. The device will therefore go into conduction immediately even though gate signal is not applied.

In practice. The thyristor turn-off time tq is applicable to an individual SCR. particularly in the range of 0 to – 50 V. thyristor is considered to be a charge controlled device.50 essential that the thyristor is reverse biased for a finite period after the anode current has reached zero. duty cycle δ is given by δ = T/ T1 . J3 and the adjacent transition regions at a faster rate. 4. Therefore. In actual practice. The turn-off time decreases with an increase in the magnitude of reverse voltage. greater amount of gate power dissipation can be allowed A duty cycle is defined as the ratio of pulse-on period to periodic time of pulse. lesser is the time to inject the required charge for turning-on the thyristor. higher the magnitude of gate current pulse. SCR turn-on time.12 (a). SCR turn-on time can be reduced by using gate current of higher magnitude. choppers and force-commutated converters. ac voltage controllers. The turn-off time provided to the thyristor by the practical circuit is called circuit turn-off time tc. Inverter-grade SCRs are costlier and are used in inverters. With pulse triggering. It should be ensured that pulse width is sufficient to allow the anode current to exceed the latching current. thyristor (or thyristors) form a part of the power circuit. or greater than. pulse-on period is T and periodic time is T1. Thus. Converter-grade SCRs are cheaper and are used where slow turn-off is possible as in phase-controlled rectifiers. SCR TURN-ON TIME As stated before. Therefore. cycloconverters etc. This is because high reverse voltage sucks out the carriers out of the junctions Jl . In Fig. gate pulse width is usually taken as equal to. Thyristors with slow turn-off time (50 – 100 (usee) are called converter grade SCRs and those with fast turn-off time (3 – 50 µsec) are called inverter-grade SCRs.

this improves the thermal stability of SCR. 4. The advantages offered by this method of firing the SCRs are lower rating. The magnitude of gate voltage and gate current for triggering an SCR is inversely proportional to junction temperature. a diode is connected either in series with the gate circuit or across the gate-cathode terminals as shown in Fig.12 (c). Diode in series with gate circuit prevents the flow of negative gate source current from becoming more than small reverse leakage current. Diode across the gate-cathode terminals.12 (b). For preventing the occurrence of such hazards. There is also prescribed a peak reverse voltage (gate negative with respect to cathode) that can be applied across gate-cathode terminals. Thus. at very low temperatures. This technique of firing the thyristor is called high-frequency carrier gating. also serves to bypass a part of the thermally-generated leakage current across junction J2 when SCR is in the forward blocking mode . prevents the gate-cathode voltage from becoming more than about 1 V. given by the trigger circuit (or by any interference). reduced dimensions and therefore an overall economical design of the pulse transformer needed for isolating the low power circuit from the main power circuit. connected across gate-cathode terminals. . exceeding this prescribed limit of about 5 to 20 V may damage the gate circuit. 4.10 (b). Fig. But Pgm should not be exceeded in any case. The resistor Rl . called clamping diode. 4.12 (a) are modulated to generate a train of pulses as shown in Fig.51 Sometimes the pulses of Fig. gate voltage and gate current must have high values in order to ensure turn-on. Any voltage signal. 4.

52 FINGER VOLTAGE: .

53 .

what is the need of putting Rs in series with Cs ? The answer to this is as under. The design of snubber circuit parameters is quite complex. Before SCR is fired by gate pulse. When switch S is closed. Cs and the load circuit parameters should be such that dv/dt across Cs during its charging is less than the specified dv/dt rating of the SCR and discharge current at the turn-on of SCR is within reasonable limits. a resistance Rs is inserted in series with Cs as shown in Fig. Normally. Rs Cs and load circuit parameters form an underdamped circuit so that dv/dt is limited to acceptable values. In practice. In order to limit the magnitude of discharge current. Strictly speaking. Rs. Cs charges to full voltage Vs. therefore voltage across SCR is zero. the turn-on di/dt will tend to be excessive and as a result.. SCR may be destroyed.25. capacitor discharges through the SCR and sends a current equal to Vs / (resistance of local path formed by Cs and SCR). a sudden voltage appears across the circuit. 4. voltage across Cs builds up at a slow rate such that dv/dt across Cs and therefore across SCR is less than the specified maximum dv/dt rating of the device. Here the question arises that if Cs is enough to prevent accidental turn-on of the device by dv/dt.54 SNUBBER CIRCUITS: A snubber circuit consists of a series combination of resistance Rs and capacitance Cs in parallel with the thyristor as shown in Fig. When the SCR is turned on. designed snubber parameters are adjusted up or down in the final assembled power circuit so as to obtain a satisfactory performance of the power electronics system. 4. a capacitor C s in parallel with the device is sufficient to prevent unwanted dv/dt triggering of the SCR.25. . initial discharge current V s/Rs is relatively small and turn-on di/dt is reduced. In actual practice . As this resistance is quite low. Now when SCR is turned on. With the passage of time. Capacitor Cs behaves like a short circuit.

see Fig.this peak. This is done with the help of voltage-clamping devices. Overvoltage transients are perhaps the main cause of thyristor failure. Suppression of overvoltages.5 to 3 times their normal peak working voltage. large transient voltage L di/dt is produced. thyristors are chosen with their peak voltage ratings of 2. The RC snubber is not enough for overvoltage protection of SCR. The RC circuit. voltage transients are likely to occur when the transformer primary is energised or deenergised. The capacitor charges at a slow rate and thus the rate of rise of forward voltage (dv/dt) across SCR is also reduced.55 OVERVOLTAGE PROTECTION Thyristors are very sensitive to overvoltages just as other semi-conductor devices are. 4. As a result. Snubber circuit is also helpful in damping overvoltage transient spikes and for limiting dv/dt across the thyristor. reverse recovery current decays abruptly with large di/dt. Such overvoltages may cause random turn on of a thyristor.29. (i) Internal overvoltages. The resistance Rs damps out the ringing oscillations between the snubber circuit and the stray circuit inductance. the former is caused by the thyristor operation whereas the latter comes from the supply lines or the load circuit. therefore. As snubber circuits provide only partial protection to SCR against transient overvoltages. . External overvoltages are caused due to the interruption of current flow in an inductive circuit and also due to lightning strokes on the lines feeding the thyristor systems. After. thyristor protection against such overvoltages can be upgraded. In practice. the overvoltages must be suppressed by adopting suitable techniques. the thyristor may be destroyed permanently. by using RC circuits and non-linear resistors called voltage clamping devices. This reverse recovery current rises to a peak value at which time the SCR begins to block. Large voltages may be generated internally during the commutation of a thyristor. is connected across the device to be protected. The effect of overvoltages is usually minimised. {ii) External overvoltages. As this internal overvoltage may be several times the breakover voltage of the device. Overvoltages may also damage the thyristor by an inverse breakdown. the overvoltages may appear across the load causing the flow of large fault currents. A thyristor may be subjected to internal or external overvoltages . It provides a local path for internal overvoltages caused by reverse recovery current. Because of the series inductance L of the SCR circuit. Snubber circuits are also connected across transformer secondary terminals to suppress overvoltage transients caused by switching on or switching off of the primary winding. Transient overvoltages cause either maloperation of the circuit by unwanted turn-on of a thyristor or permanent damage to the device due to reverse breakdown. anode current reverses due to stored charges. After thyristor anode current reduces to zero. a combined protection consisting of RC snubber and voltage clamping arrangement is provided to thyristors. For reliable operation. In order to keep the protective components to a minimum. When a thyristor converter is fed through a transformer. called snubber circuit.

therefore. if the motor stalls due to overloads. If the fuse current is interrupted abruptly. However. These fuses and thyristors are found to have similar thermal properties. may be high.L. the fusing-time of the fast-acting fuse must be properly co-ordinated with the rating of a thyristor. Therefore. magnitude and rate of rise of current is not limited because source has negligible impedance. Conventional protective methods are. The currentlimiting fuse consists of one or more fine silver ribbons having very short fusing time. . In case voltage rating of the fuse is far in excess of circuit voltage. inadequate in electrical stiff supply networks. For all such systems. As in other electrical systems. its junction temperature may exceed the rated value and the device may be damaged. The filter inductance commonly employed in dc and ac drives may limit the rate of rise of fault current below the multicycle surge current rating of the thyristor. the current is limited by the source and motor impedances. fault current and therefore junction temperature rise within a few milliseconds. In machine tool and excavator drives. This voltage is equal to the sum of source voltage and the emf induced in the circuit inductance during arcing time ta.f. an abrupt current interruption would lead to dangerous overvoltages. fault current is limited by the source impedance below the multi-cycle surge current rating of the thyristor. however. Special fast-acting current-limiting fuses are. A fuse carries the thyristor current as both are placed in series. induced e. But the peak let through current of fuse must be less than the subcycle surge current rating of the SCR. required for the protection of thyristors in these stiff supply networks. Proper co-ordination between fast-acting current-limiting fuse and thyristor is essential. short circuits or surge currents . There is thus a need for the overcurrent protection of SCRs. or recovery. if a thyristor is subjected to overcurrent due to faults. Therefore. The voltage across the fuse during arcing period is known as arcing. In a weak supply network.m. the fuse must be rated to carry full-load current plus a marginal overload current for an indefinite period. When both circuit breaker and fast-acting current-limiting fuse are used for overcurrent protection of SCR. The tripping time of the circuit breaker. overcurrent protection in thyristor circuits is achieved through the use of circuit breakers and fastacting fuses. it is therefore generally used for protecting the semiconductor device against the continuous overloads or against surge currents of long duration. The type of protection used against overcurrent depends upon whether the supply system is weak or stiff. fuse is used for protecting thyristors against large surge currents of very short duration. A circuit breaker has long tripping time. It should therefore be ensured during fuse design and coordination that arcing voltage is limited to less than twice the peak supply voltage. The faulty circuit must be cleared before any damage is done to the device.56 OVERCURRENT PROTECTION: Thyristors have small thermal time constants. overcurrent can be interrupted by conventional fuses and circuit breakers. A fast-acting C. as a result arcing voltage would be excessive. In such systems. voltage. proper coordination is essential to guarantee that (i) fault current is interrupted before the thyristor is damaged and (ii) only faulty branches of the network are isolated. As such.

Protection against over-voltages is achieved by connecting a zener diode across the gate circuit. These undesirable trigger pulses may turn on the SCR leading to false operation of the main SCR. 4.f. is induced in these cables and spurious firing of thyristors is thus minimised. A varying flux caused by nearby transients cannot pass through twisted gate leads or shielded cables. A resistor R2 connected in series with the gate circuit provides protection against overcurrents.28 illustrates the basic principle of electronic crowbar protection. A crowbar thyristor is connected across the input dc terminals.m. After some time. Overvoltages across the gate circuit can cause false triggering of the SCR. If it exceeds preset value. An electronic crowbar protection provides rapid isolation of the power converter before any damage occurs Fig. A current sensing resistor detects the value of converter current. Sometimes transients in a power circuit may also cause unwanted signal to appear across the gate of a neighbouring SCR. firing. Turning-on or turning-off of an SCR may induce trigger pulses in a nearby SCR.57 ELECTRONIC CROWBAR PROTECTION: As thyristor possesses high surge current capability. or noise. main fuse interrupts the fault current. As such no e. gate circuit provides the signal to crowbar SCR and turns it on in a few microseconds. it can be used in an electronic crowbar circuit for overcurrent protection of power converters using SCRs. A capacitor and a resistor are also connected across gate . The fuse may be replaced by a circuit breaker if SCR has adequate surge current rating. Gate protection against such spurious firing is obtained by using shielded cables or twisted gate leads. The crowbar thyristor current depends upon the source voltage and its impedance. GATE PROTECTION: Gate circuit should also be protected against overvoltages and over currents. Overcurrent may raise junction temperature beyond specified limit leading to its damage. A common problem in thyristor circuits is that they suffer from spurious. The input terminals are then short-circuited by crowbar SCR and it shunts away the converter overcurrent.

58 to cathode to bypass the noise signals. as shown in the figure below. The capacitor should be less than 0.1 µF and must not deteriorate the waveshape of the gate pulse. TWO TRANSISTOR MODEL FOR A THYRISTOR .

for transistor Q2.(4. 4. From this figure. In the off-state of a transistor. collector current Ic is related to emitter current IE as IC = αIE + ICBO where α is the common-base current gain and ICB0 is the common-base leakage current of collector-base junction of a transistor.15 (c). junctions J1 – J2 and J2 -J3 can be considered to constitute pnp and npn transistors separately. for Q1 IC1 = α1 Ia + ICBO1 …….59 The principle of thyristor operation can be explained with the use of its two-transistor model (or two-transistor analogy). In this figure..4. Fig.15 below shows schematic diagram of a thyristor. in two separate halves as shown in the figure. The circuit representation of the two-transistor model of a thyristor is shown in figure (c).ICBO2 =common-base leakage current of Q2 and Ik = emitter current of Q2. along the dotted line. emitter current IE = anode current Ia and IC = collector current IC1.4) where α2 – common-base current gain of Q2.3) where and α1 = common-base current gain of Q1 ICBO1 = common-base leakage current of Q1 Similarly. . For transistor Q1 in Fig. two-transistor model is obtained by bisecting the two middle layers. the collector current IC2 is given by IC2 = α2 Ik + ICBO2 …(4. Therefore.

(4. a builds up rapidly as shown in Fig.6) shows that anode current. is somewhat more than ICBO1 + ICBO2. equal to the forward leakage current.6) Ia would tend to become infinity thereby turning-on the device.16.5) gives Ia = α1 Ia + ICBO1+ α2 (Ia + Ig ) + ICBO2 or Ia = α2 Ig + ICBO1 + ICBO2 /[1-( α1+ α2)] For a silicon transistor.25 various mechanisms for turning-on a thyristor are now discussed below : (i) GATE Triggering : With anode positive with respect to cathode and with gate current Ig = 0. then as per Eq. With an increase in emitter current.4) is equal to the external circuit current Iα entering at anode terminal A. external load limits the anode current to a safe value after the thyristor begins conduction. then Ik = Ia + Ig .5) When gate current is applied.Under these conditions. in fact. (4. are the methods of making α1+ α2 to approach unity. (4. The methods of turning-on a thyristor. There fore Ia = IC1 + IC2 Ia = α1 Ia + ICBO1+ α2 Ik + ICBO2 …(4. With gate current Ig = 0 and with thyristor forward biased. (4. . If.6) and forward leakage current somewhat more than ICBO1 + ICBO2 flows.3) and (4. current gain α is very low at low emitter current. 4. by some means. Actually. the device is in the forward blocking state. Substituting this value of Ik in Eq. These 0.60 The sum of two collector currents given by Eqs.( α1+ α2)is very low as per Eq (4. the emitter current of two component transistors can be increased so that α 1+ α2 approaches unity. Eq.

(iid Temperature triggering : At high temperature. This characteristic of the thyristor makes it suitable for pulse triggering. current gain α2 of Q2 increases and base current IB2 causes the existence of collector current IC2 = β2IB2 = β2 Ig. IC2 leads to an increase in the emitter currents of Ql Q2. the forward leakage current across junction J2 rises. Note that thyristor is a latching device After thyristor is turned on. i = C dv/dt.In case it is assumed that entire forward voltage v a appears across reverse biased junction J2 then charging current across the junction is given by i = Cj dva /dt This charging or displacement current across junction J2 is collector currents of Q2 and Q1 Currents IC2. (iii) dv/dt triggering : The reversed biased junction J2 behaves like a capacitor because of the space-charge present there. gate current can be withdrawn. the emitter currents will be large and as a result. Even after Ig is removed. regeneration continues. As a result. the emitter currents of the two transistors also increase causing α1+ α2 to approach unity. thyristor has very low impedance and is in the forward on-state. With the establishment of emitter current Ik of Q2. anode current begins to grow towards a larger value limited only by load impedance external to the device. . This amplified current IC2 serves as the base current IB1 of transistor Q1 With the flow of IB1 collector current IC1 = β1 IB1 = β1 β2 Ig of Q1 comes into existence. which is also the collector current of Q2 as well as Q1 With increase in collector currents IC1 and IC2 due to avalanche effect. the leakage current at the middle junction J2 of thyristor increases. all the four layers are filled with carriers and all junctions are forward biased. This leads to switching action of the device due to regenerative action. (α1+ α2) approaches unity. As amplified collector current IC2 is equal to the base current of Q1 current gain α1 eventually rises further.61 Now a sufficient gate-drive current between gate and cathode of the transistor is applied. switching action of thyristor takes place. Let the capacitance of this junction be Cj. As a result. There is thus established a regenerative action internal to the device. When regeneration has grown sufficiently. Under these conditions. This leakage current serves as the collector junction current of the component transistors Q1 and Q2. the collector to emitter voltages of both the transistors are also increased. Now current Ig + ICI = (1 + β1 β2) Ig acts as the base current of Q2 and therefore its emitter current Ik = ICI + Ig With the rise in emitter current Ik α2 of Q2 increases and this further causes IC2 = P2 (1 + β1 β2) Ig to rise. Therefore. For any capacitor. Consequently. As a consequence. α1+ α2 will approach unity leading to eventual switching action of the thyristor. IC1 will induce emitter current in Q2. The forward-voltage triggering for turning-on a thyristor may be destructive and should therefore be avoided. This regenerative or positive feedback effect causes α1+ α2 to grow towards unity. Q1 In case rate of rise of anode voltage is large. (ii) Forward-voltage triggering : If the forward anode to cathode voltage is increased. Currents IB1 and IC1 lead to the establishment of emitter current Ia of Q1 and this causes current gain α1 to rise as desired. This gate-drive current is equal to base current IB2 = Ig and emitter current Ik of transistor Q2. an increase in leakage current ICI.

62 (v) Light triggering : When light is thrown on silicon. a transistor must be given a continuous base signal to remain in on-state. In the forward-biased thyristor. However. The operational differences between thyristor-family and transistor family of devices may now be summarised as under : i) Once a thyristor is turned on by a gate signal. the electron-hole pairs increase. However. . gate-triggering is the most common method for turning-on a thyristor. As stated before. Light-triggered thyristors are used in HVDC applications. it remains latched in on-state due to internal regenerative action. a transistor turns off when its base signal is removed. ii) In order to turn-off a thyristor. leakage current across J2 increases which eventually increases α1+ α2 to unity as explained before and switching action of thyristor occurs. a reverse voltage must be applied across its anodecathode terminals.

(a) di/dt protection. the current spreads across the whole area of junction. This reverse biased junction J2.3 (b). This localised heating may destroy the thyristor.(4. When a thyristor is forward biased and is turned on by a gate pulse. the rate of rise of forward anode to cathode voltage dVa/dt must be kept below the specified rated limit. Typical di/dt limit values of SCRs are 20-500 A/µ sec.(4. (4. This can be achieved by applying a gate current nearer to (but never greater than) the maximum specified gate current. However. local hot spots will be formed near the gate connection on account of high current density. For controllable operation of the thyristor. 4. If the entire anode to cathode forward voltage Va appears across J2 junction and the charge is denoted by Q.6 (a).This charging current plays the role of gate current and turns on the SCR even when gate signal is zero. i. called di/dt inductor. space-charges exist in the depletion region around junction J2 and therefore junction J2 behaves like a capacitance. The object of this section is to discuss various techniques adopted for the protection of SCRs. essential. The value of di/dt can be maintained below acceptable limit by using a small inductor.e. conduction of anode current begins in the immediate neighbourhood of the gate-cathode junction. A spurious signal across gate-cathode terminals may lead to unwanted turn-on. then a charging current i given by Eq. if the rate of rise of anode current.. SCRs are very delicate devices. the two outer junctions are forward biased but the inner junction is reverse biased.63 THYRISTOR PROTECTION: Reliable operation of a thyristor demands that its specified ratings are not exceeded. therefore. 4. Thereafter. their protection against abnormal operating conditions is. in series with the anode circuit. is large as compared to the spread velocity of carriers. The thyristor design permits the spread of conduction to the whole junction area as rapidly as possible.6 a) As Cj the capacitance of junction J2 is almost constant.. Therefore. Fig. There may be false triggering of SCR by high value of dv/dt. has the characteristics of a capacitor due to charges existing across the junction. called dv/dt turnon must be avoided as it leads to false operation of the thyristor circuit. the rate of rise of anode current at the time of turn-on must be kept below the specified limiting value. the current is given by i = Cj (d Va /dt) ………….6) flows i = dQ/dt =d(Cj Va )/dt =Cj (d Va /dt) + Va(d Cj /dt) …………. dv/dt protection. Local spot heating can also be avoided by ensuring that the conduction spreads to the whole area as rapidly as possible. With forward voltage across the anode and cathode of a thyristor. the charging current i will be more. Such phenomena of turning-on a thyristor. Typical values of dv/dt are 20 – 500 V/µsec. In other words. Fig. During SCR turn-on. a thyristor may be subjected to overvoltages or overcurrents. di/dt. False turn-on of a thyristor by large dv/dt can be prevented by using a snubber circuit in parallel with the device. di/dt may be prohibitively large. A thyristor must be protected against all such abnormal conditions for satisfactory and reliable operation of SCR circuit and the equipment. In practice. .6 b) If the rate of rise of forward voltage dVa/dt is high.

This rapid flipping of the magnetic domains causes considerable friction and heating inside the material. For these reasons Induction Heating lends itself to some unique applications in industry. it is interesting to note that transformer manufacturers go to great lengths to avoid this phenomenon in their transformers. a number of things happen. A source of high frequency electricity is used to drive a large alternating current through a coil. It uses high frequency electricity to heat materials that are electrically conductive. These are known as eddy currents. and is greatest for materials that have a large area inside their B-H curve. The work coil is like the primary where electrical energy is fed in. This skin effect forces the alternating current to flow in a thin layer towards the surface of the work piece. It is also very efficient since the heat is actually generated inside the work piece. Since it is noncontact. This can be contrasted with other heating methods where heat is generated in a flame or heating element. Inside a transformer the passage of eddy currents is highly undesirable because it causes heating of the magnetic core and represents power that is wasted. This can be a large contributing factor to the heat generated during induction heating. The passage of current through this coil generates a very intense and rapidly changing magnetic field in the space within the work coil. The arrangement of the work coil and the work piece can be thought of as an electrical transformer. Therefore it greatly increases the heating effect caused by the current induced in the work piece. Depending on the nature of the work piece material. the heating process does not contaminate the material being heated. Heating due to this mechanism is known as Hysteresis loss. the high frequency used in induction heating applications gives rise to a phenomenon called skin effect. The alternating magnetic field induces a current flow in the conductive work piece. The work piece to be heated is placed within this intense alternating magnetic field. there is an additional heating mechanism that takes place at the same time as the eddy currents mentioned above. The skin effect increases the effective resistance of the metal to the passage of the large current. In addition to this.64 INDUCTION HEATING OF CONDUCTING MATERIALS Induction heating is a non-contact heating process. The intense alternating magnetic field inside the work coil repeatedly magnetises and de-magnetises the iron crystals. . powdered iron cores and ferrites are all used to prevent eddy currents from flowing inside transformer cores. (Although the heating due to eddy currents is desirable in this application.) For ferrous metals like iron and some types of steel... which is then applied to the work piece. and the work piece is like a single turn secondary that is short-circuited. This causes tremendous currents to flow through the work piece. Laminated transformer cores. This coil is known as the work coil.

The frequency to be used does not depend much on the type of conducting material. This means that above 700°C there can be no heating of the material due to hysteresis losses. and also on the depth of heat penetration that is required. Eddy currents. the cost is very much reduced. It is interesting to note that steel looses its magnetic properties when heated above approximately 700°C. (We will see that the best course of action for these materials is to up the frequency to exaggerate losses due to the skin effect. . The fact that copper and Aluminium are both non-magnetic and very good electrical conductors. which would have been required if the whole piece was heated. Since the time involved in the procedure is minimal. For heating small work jobs. The frequency used can vary between 10 KHz to 100 KHz from thicker rods to thinner rods for surface hardening. At high frequencies. electrical induction heating is a very effective method as compared to heating of such work peaces by direct heat or fuel fired furnaces. or for heat treatment for hardening the surface of the material. For this reason ferrous materials lend themselves more easily to heating by induction than non-ferrous materials. Also. This method is faster and cleaner and also economical. Due to the skin effect the induced currents in the work piece heat only about 5% of the outer surface of the work job above 1500 degrees F. The frequency to be used for induction heating is determined by the size of the work piece and the depth of heating required. high temperature is obtained quickly with lesser amount of energy input. The depth of penetration of the heat decreases in proportion to the square root of the frequency approximately whereas the amount of power increases in proportion to the square root of the frequency. rather than the type of conducting material. higher frequencies are used to produce greater “skin effect”. it is important that the surface is brought to a high temperature quickly in few seconds and quench or cool it before the heat has traveled to the inside of the work piece or is lost due to radiation. with this method. Any further heating of the material must be due to induced eddy currents alone. hysterisis and skin effect principles have to be borne in mind when deciding the power required as well as the frequency for induction heating. but depends more on the size and shape of the material. the main part of the work job maintains its shape. can also make these materials a challenge to heat efficiently. thereby straightening of the piece is not necessary. The internal metal below is not greatly heated and hence it remains softer and tougher. About 5 to 50 KW/square inch (of surface) input power is required for most metal hardening. thus providing the required strength.65 but only takes place inside ferrous materials. Hence. This temperature is known as the Curie temperature. This makes heating steel above 700°C more of a challenge for the induction heating systems. Much of the heat quickly gets transferred to the inner portion and also some heat is radiated.) In order to achieve uniform heating of conducting materials.

and chemicals in its coating react with any gasses in the vacuum. Metal hardening of ammunition. A ring of conductive material called a "getter" is placed inside the evacuated glass vessel. These foil seals are then rapidly heated as the bottles pass under an induction heater on the production line. the foil remains providing an airtight seal and preventing any tampering or contamination of the bottle's contents until the customer pierces the foil. A work coil to generate the alternating magnetic field. Another common application is "getter firing" to remove contamination from evacuated tubes such as TV picture tubes. A source of High Frequency electrical power. Within seconds of starting the induction heater. 3. efficient and controlled manner. A foil seal coated with "hotmelt glue" is inserted into the plastic cap and screwed onto the top of each bottle during manufacture. etc are also common applications because the induction process heats the surface of the metal very rapidly. and hardening of localised areas of metallic parts by "outrunning" the thermal conduction of heat deeper into the part or to surrounding areas. The heat generated melts the glue and seals the foil onto the top of the bottle. One of the most common applications is for sealing the anti-tamper seals that are stuck to the top of medicine and drinks bottles. The result is that the getter absorbs any last remaining traces of gas inside the vacuum tube and increases the purity of the vacuum. Induction cooking hobs and rice cookers. welding and brazing or metals. Since induction heating is a non-contact process it can be used to heat the getter that is already sealed inside a vessel. Yet another common application for induction heating is a process called Zone purification used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. When the cap is removed. the getter is heated white hot. saw blades and drive shafts. Other applications include melting. gear teeth. In theory only 3 things are essential to implement induction heating: 1. Therefore it can be used for surface hardening. This is a process in which silicon is purified by means of a moving zone of molten material. Similiarly. and various gas discharge lamps. vacuum tubes. metal medical instruments may be sterilised by heating them to high temperatures whilst they are still sealed inside a known sterile environment. . An electrically conductive work piece to be heated. The non contact nature of induction heating also means that it can be used to heat materials in analytical applications without risk of contaminating the specimen. An Internet Search is sure to turn up more details on this process that I know little about.66 Induction heating can be used for any application where we want to heat an electrically conductive material in a clean. An induction work coil is located close to the getter on the outside of the vacuum tube and the AC source is turned on. 2. in order to kill germs.

and does not adversely effect the operation of the LCLR work coil arrangement. it should be realised that the quality and regulation of the power supply for induction heating applications is not critical. This has a number of advantages. . The system schematic above shows the simplest inverter driving its LCLR work coil arrangement.) It is fed from a smoothed DC supply with decoupling capacitor across the rails to support the AC current demands of the inverter. Note that this schematic DOES NOT SHOW the MOSFET gate-drive circuitry and control electronics! The inverter in this demonstration prototype was a simple half-bridge consisting of two MTW14N50 MOSFETs made my On-semiconductor (formerly Motorola. but peak currents are higher for the same average heating power.67 In practice the work coil is usually incorporated into a resonant tank circuit. Firstly. and it also minimises stored energy in case of fault conditions within the inverter. This later point becoming very important in high-powered systems. It is sized sufficiently large that it does not take part in the impedance matching. The sinusoidal waveform at the work coil also represents a more pure signal and causes less Radio Frequency Interference to nearby equipment. In particular it improves the power factor of current drawn from the mains supply via a rectifier. However. There are many arguments for keeping the size of the DC bus capacitor down to a minimum. Full-wave rectified (but un-smoothed) mains can work as well as smoothed and regulated DC when it comes to heating metal. The DC-blocking capacitor is used merely to stop the DC output from the halfbridge inverter from causing current flow through the work coil. This minimises losses in the inverter by allowing it to benefit from either zero-voltage-switching or zero-currentswitching depending on the exact arrangement chosen. it makes either the current or the voltage waveform become sinusoidal.

(If both legs of the H-bridge can be controlled independently then there is scope for controlling power throughput using phaseshift control. The DC-blocking capacitor can also be eliminated if current mode control is used to ensure that no net DC flows between the bridge legs. In such designs the matching inductance is usually split equally between the two bridge legs so that the drive voltage waveforms are balanced with respect to ground. However.68 In high power designs it is common to use a full-bridge (H-bridge) of 4 or more switching devices. At still higher powers it is possible to use several separate inverters effectively connected in parallel to meet the high load-current demands. the .

This inductive impedance limits the "shoot between" current that flows between paralleled inverters if their switching instants are not perfectly synchronised. potentially eliminating failure of further devices. If isolation transformers are included in the designs then they need not even run from the same supply! .69 separate inverters are not directly tied in parallel at the output terminals of their H-bridges. Secondly. Each of the distributed inverters is connected to the remote work coil via its own pair of matching inductors which ensure that the total load is spread evenly among all of the inverters. Therefore the distributed inverters for induction heating need not necessarily be located physically close to each other. any additional inductance between the inverters merely adds to this impedance and only has the effect of slightly degrading current sharing. since all distributed inverters are already connected via inductors. the impedance BETWEEN any two inverter outputs is equal to twice the value of the matching inductance. Finally. These matching inductors also provide a number of additional benefits when inverters are paralleled in this way. this same inductive reactance between inverters limits the rate at which fault current rises if one of the inverters exhibits a device failure. Firstly.

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4) Why is induction heating more preferable than conventional furnace heating methods? 5) Can induction heating be used for non conductive materials like plastic? Justify your answer. 2) What are the advantages of induction heating? 3) List applications of induction heating. .73 QUESTIONS: 1) State and explain the principle involved in induction heating procedure.

since the heat that is generated is uniform throughout the material. Thus dielectric heating is based on the principle of converting high frequency electric energy into heat energy. where the two electrodes are as good as two plates of a capacitor and job is the dielectric material between the two electrodes. Because of the charging and discharging of the capacitance. The block diagram shown represents the basic principle of operation. Also we know that Xc = 1 / 2¶ √LC.74 DIELECTRIC HEATING OF NONCONDUCTING MATERIALS A non-conducting material generates heat when subjected to an alternating electric field. This method of heating is widely used in wood and plastic industry. providing certain conditions are adhered to. The basic arrangement is as shown in the diagram. and . This causes heat to be produced. Generally radio frequency oscillators are used in this process. The current flowing in the circuit is given by Ic = E / Xc. this is a very effective method. An oscillator is used to provide the high frequency. The heat produced will depend on the dielectric strength of the material to be heated. The job to be heated is place between two electrodes which are connected to a very high frequency supply. For heating and gluing / joining / bonding multiple layers of plywood. food and chemical industries. where Ic is the current flowing through the capacitor in amperes. rubber. The amount of heat generated depends upon and is directly proportional to the following: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) frequency capacity of the job square of the supply voltage power factor of t he load area of the electrode plates. the molecular arrangement in the job changes due to the continuous stress caused by the alternating electric field. Dielectric heating is the result of dielectric loss in the material to be heated. In very simple terms a capacitance is formed between the two electrodes and the job or work piece. The other areas where this method is used are textile. E is the magnitude of the high frequency voltage applied to the two plates and Xc is the reactance of the capacitance in also.

Processing of chemicals during manufacturing process. Processing rubber and other synthetic materials. any other method of heating of nonconductive materials will not produce uniform heating or rise in temperature and hence will take longer duration to heat. The glue between the wood layers can be dried using dielectric heating in the manufacture of plywood. The frequency to be used will depend upon the size / dimensions of the job and also on the high frequency electrical power output. namely. etc. The dielectric constants for most materials generally range between 2 and 17. the frequency used may be in the range of 10 -15 MHz. Processing and manufacture of semiconductor devices. Gluing. and. For lesser power outputs. the size of the electrodes that are used as plates of the capacitor should be larger or greater than the size or dimensions of the job.) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) . in just one minute. with a few exceptions like. which should be contact with both the plates so that series capacitance due to air is not introduced. drying and curing of wood. Curing of resin based adhesives and sand cores in foundries. (Plastic sheets are joined together using combination of heat and pressure. the frequency used is less at about 30 MHz and yet. in case of gases it can be as low as 0. Yet one more consideration is that there should not be any air gap between the plates and the job. Approximately 2000 watts of power will heat the plastic perform of 1 pound to about 300 degrees F. whereas. Note that the heat produced is inversely proportional to the distance between the two plates. terylene. Specific applications of dielectric heating are: 1) 2) 3) 4) Drying and heat treatment of textile goods such as rayon. Preheating and curing of plastics.000 volts so as to ensure that arcing or corona effects do not takes place between the electrodes or plates. A “perform” of a biscuit sized material is placed in a dielectric heater for a minute and then it is passed on to a press that moulds it in the required shape. the length of the electrodes or plates should be greater than the distance between the two plates.75 6) dielectric constant of the job or work piece. as the power increases to about 40 – 50 K-watts.5 and for ceramics it can be as high as 1000 or more. for still higher electrical outputs in the range of 200 K-watts. For uniform heating of the material there are two important and absolutely essential conditions. Sewing of seam in plastic materials. nylon. Also note that the maximum value of the voltage applied to the electrodes should not be more than 15. Sterilization of food and medical supplies. of 100 watts to 1000 watts frequencies in the range of 200 MHz maybe used. One important point to be noted is that.

H.F.F. band oscillator can b used in the medical field for heating the human body. . electricity flows in wires or electrodes several inches away from the body.H. When the V. which produces “artificial fever” when desired for medical treatment.76 10) A V. heat is produced inside the blood vessels.

EQUIPMENTS/APPARATUS REQUIRED .77 VI.