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Published by: Muhamad Faizal on May 28, 2012
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Lecture 4.

Silicon Controlled Rectifiers Part 1
In this lecture:
4.1. 4.2. 4.3. SCR construction and operation Controlled rectification – half-wave Full-wave SCR rectification

4.1 SCR Construction
A thyristor (or silicon-controlled rectifier) is a pnpn device with three terminals: 1. Anode (A) 2. Cathode (K) 3. Gate (G)
Gate, G Anode, A Cathode, K p1 n1 p2 n2

• The silicon-controlled rectifier, or thyristor, is a multi-junction device with latching switch behaviour.


Similar to a diode, but with one important difference. Two conditions have to be met for forward current to flow: 1. Forward-biased voltage 2. A pulse of current on the gate terminal.

Figure 4. 1 Thyristor pnpn construction

• When the device is reverse-biased (VAK<0), no current flows. • When the device is forward-biased (VAK>0), no current flows until a current pulse is applied to the gate.

This allows the thyristor to control very large currents very easily.
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To see how it works, we can visualise the thyristor like two bipolar junction transistors (BJTs), back-to-back (Figure 4. 2):

Latching switch behaviour
1. When IG=0, both BJTs are switched off, and no current flows no matter what VAK is. 2. If a pulse of current IG is applied to the gate, then • The npn device turns on, drawing collector current from the base of the pnp down to the cathode, K. • The pnp turns on, forcing collector current down from the anode to the base of the npn

(b) (a)
Figure 4. 2 A thyristor can be regarded as a pnp BJT and an npn BJT, connected back-toback

3. After the current pulse IG has ended: • The large current flowing from the pnp device’s collector to the npn device’s base is enough to keep the npn turned on • Then the large current drawn from the pnp’s base is enough to keep the pnp turned on. • Hence, the thyristor stays on. This behaviour is called latching switch behaviour.

1. The base of the pnp device is connected to the collector of the npn device 2. The base of the npn device is connected to the collector of the pnp device.

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v(t).C.C. IG. IR → ~ 5 A EE301 GB04 Page 5 EE301 GB04 Page 6 4. - 10 To turn the device off: 1. We can apply the turn-on IG pulse at any stage in the supply’s cycle. • This is the basis for the operation of the gate turn-off thyristor. voltages more flexibly than diodes. 1Although forward-biased. Table 4. EE301 GB04 Page 7 EE301 GB04 Page 8 . • Depending on the value of βpnp and βnpn. but not very fast. The anode voltage must fall below the minimum required to keep the transistors on. Supply voltage (broken line) and Load voltage (steady line) Figure 4. 45° (=π/4). almost the same as the diode case. the average output voltage is quite high. • For example. so • IR = 0. • SCR rectifiers can vary the DC voltage by changing the turn-on time of the SCRs in the circuit. must deliver enough charge to overcome carrier depletion in the two BJTs and switch them on.2. 3 above. Some time later. Let’s delay SCR’s the turn-on by. VR → ~ 50 V. for example. • VAK → ~ 0 V. but no current flows. Half-Wave Rectification • SCRs are used to rectify A. Thus: IR + VR IG Thyristors are reliable and flexible. with a turn-on delay of π/4. momentarily sucking carriers out of the npn device’s base region and turning the BJTs off. The thyristor is switched off initially. the thyristor conducts only after a current pulse is applied to the gate OR 2. + 50 V D. VR = 0. VAK ≈ 50 V.Example The gate current pulse The current pulses in the gate. • So the thyristor is forward biased. Figure 4. supplied by an A. 3 A SCR half-wave rectifier As you can guess.C. Consider the half-wave SCR rectifier in Figure 4. Apply a negative current to the gate. or GTO. this IG usually needs to be much larger than the turn-on IG. a common application is the light dimmer switch. 4 Half-wave SCR rectifier. apply a pulse of IG: thyristor switches on. voltage source. since SCRs can be switched on whenever we want. We would get the following graph for the load voltage.

4. o Beyond φ = π rad the SCR is reverse-biased. we get different-shaped load voltages… The average output voltage Because the output SCR voltage is entirely positive. as before. At a phase delay of φ radians the load voltage is zero from 0 to φ. φ). by φ=3π/4: (3/8 of a period) Vavg = π 1 2π 2π ∫ v (ωt ) 0 d ωt d ωt = = 1 Vm sin ωt 2π ∫ φ Depending on the delay (generally called the phase delay. 6 An SCR bridge rectifier Figure 4. the average voltage decreases until it reached zero at φ=π rad (that’s 180°. or T/2 seconds). by delaying the switching time we can control the average output voltage. o As the phase delay increases. Between π and 2π the load voltage is zero. But this time the available power is doubled. Vm π [− cos ωt ]φ 2π V = m [− cos π + cos φ ] 2π Vm = [1 + cos φ ] 2π EE301 GB04 Page 10 EE301 GB04 Page 9 • This is a wonderful result! It allows us to control the average load voltage. the average voltage decreases: o When φ=0 rad. we can use the traditional averaging formula instead of RMS. So the average voltage can be found. This is identical to the familiar diode bridge rectifier. With a resistive load this circuit performs in a similar way to the diode circuit: EE301 GB04 Page 11 EE301 GB04 Page 12 . the SCR performs just like a diode rectifier. except that each diode is now replaced by a thyristor. Full-wave rectification (a) Resistive load A more efficient circuit is the SCR bridge rectifier.If we increase the delay of the current pulse. we can easily control the average output voltage. just by changing the phase-delay on the SCR. • So as φ increases. 2. 5 VAVG vs delay angle φ for a controlled half-wave rectifier As before. and so the rectifier stays off. A Vin VLoad RL B C D Figure 4.3. φ=π/2 (a quarter-period) Some quick simplifications: 1.

and also a three-phase SCR rectifier. • Now we have non-zero load voltage for both the positive and the negative half-periods of the supply. 2.6 0. vin>0: • SCRs A and D become reverse biased (turn off). • A pulse of IG into B and C then turns them on. • So the average load voltage Vavg is simply twice the half-wave average. 1 0.8 -1 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 The average voltage can be easily derived as before: • In the half-wave case we only had non-zero load voltage for the positive half-period of the supply voltage.2 0 -0. vin>0: • one pair of SCRs (A.4 -0. B and C. Vavg = Vavg Vm (1 + cos φ ) 2π V = m (1 + cos φ ) (Single SCR rectifier) (Full SCR Bridge) π Next lecture: we will see how the SCR bridge rectifier behaves supplying an inductive load.2 0 -0. while the other pair. END OF LECTURE EE301 GB04 Page 13 EE301 GB04 Page 14 . become forward-biased. • Positive current load flows left-to-right.1. giving the waveform below.8 0.4 0. and positive load current flows right-to-right again! Again. by delaying the devices’ turn-on times.D) can turn on while the other pair stay off.6 -0. the load voltage goes to zero while the switches are off.

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