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EXPERIMENT # 1

I-V CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SILICON PN-JUNCTION DIODE
PN-Junction Diode
Background
A Silicon PN-Junction Diode is a semiconductor, two terminal device made by doping
the semiconductor with holes (P type) and Electrons (N type).

Fig. E-1: PN Junction Diode Electrical Symbols

Depending on the applied voltage, Diodes could be “forward” or “reverse” biased.
For “forward bias” the positive of the power supply is connected to the Diode‟s Anode,
and the negative of the power supply is connected to the Diode‟s Cathode.
For “reverse bias” the positive of the power supply goes to the Diode‟s Cathode, and the
negative of the power supplies goes to the Diode‟s Anode. For “reverse bias” the current
flow is almost zero (μA range).
The diode is a non-linear circuit element i.e. its voltage and current relationship is nonlinear (ex. compared to a Resistor whose I-V characteristics are linear)

Fig. E-2: I-V Characteristic Graph of PN Junction Diode

Some types of PN-junction diodes: Rectifier diode, Zener diode, Light Emitting Diode
(LED) etc.
The general relationship between the current and the voltage of a diode is given by:

Where
 Is is the reverse saturation current and its value is constant for a specific diode.
Usually this is a very small value of current since virtually no current flows in the
reverse direction.
 η is another constant whose value ranges from 1 to 2 depending on the material of the
semiconductor diode.
 VT is the thermal equivalent voltage.

Where k is the Boltzman‟s constant (1.38E-23 J/K), T is the temperature in Kelvin and q
is the basic electronic charge
(1.6E-19 C). The value of VT at the room temperature is usually taken as 26mV.
 VD is the applied voltage between the terminals of the diode.
 ID is the diode current.

In this lab experiment, both the forward and the reverse bias characteristics of a
PN-junction diode will be studied. The lab experiment is performed in groups of
two students per workstation.

Pre-Lab
1. Simulate the I-V characteristics of the 1N4001GP diode we will be using in this lab.
To do this, open MultiSim and select the 1N4001GP device from the “Place Diode”
button. Next, select the IV-Analysis tool from the “Instruments” toolbar (located on the
far right of the screen)

Fig. P-1: Multisim Toolbar Location for IV Analyzer

2. Wire the device and instrument as shown below

Fig. P-2: IV Analyzer Wired to Diode

3. Simulate the circuit and double-click the IV-Analysis tool (XIVI) and set the
parameters as shown below.

Fig. P-3: IV Analyzer Parameter Dialog Box

4. Take a screenshot of your I-V characteristic graph, print it and attach to your lab
notebooks.
5. Record the value of the reverse-bias saturation current, Is, and the turn-on voltage, Vf,
of the diode

Experiment Procedure
Equipment and components required for this experiment:
- Breadboard, wires
- A rectifier diode (ex. 1N4001)
- Resistors (1K and 2K)
- Multimeters (A-meter and V-meter)
- Adjustable DC power supply
PART ONE: Construct circuit #1 below. (Forward Bias Configuration):

Fig. E-1: Circuit for Analyzing Forward Bias Characteristic

a. For every value of Vin, measure Vd and Id, and record the values as shown below:
Vin (V)

Vd (V)

Id(mA)

By adjusting Vin, take 10 readings for Vd and Id, for 0V < Vd < 0.5V (steps of 0.05V
for Vd). This is the region where the Diode is not conducting. Note that the changes are
for Vd, NOT for Vin. Assuming that the increments are for Vin will result in limited
measurements for Vd. Closely follow the voltage measurement from the
MULTIMETER, and once it reaches the desired Vd value, record the corresponding
values for Vin (power supply display), and Id (multimeter measuring current). Also,
the value of Id might be very small, make sure you reduce the resolution of the
multimeter so you can record it.
b. Now take 10 more readings for Vd and Id for 0.5V < Vd < 0.75V (steps of 0.025V for
Vd). This is the region where the diode initially starts conducting and then is fully turned
on.
c. Replace the R=1K with a R=2K resistor. Repeat part “a” and part “b” above. (Since
the experiment is conducted in groups of two students, one student performs part a
and b, the other one performs part c)
PART TWO: Construct circuit # 2 below. (Reverse Bias Configuration)

Fig. E-2: Circuit for Analyzing Reverse Bias Characteristics

a. For every value of Vin, measure Vd and Id. By adjusting Vin, take 10 readings for Vd
and Id, for -5V < Vd < 0V (steps of 0.5V for Vd). Note the value of Id might be very
small, so make sure you reduce the resolution of the multimeter so you can record it.
b. Replace the R=1K with a R=2K resistor. Repeat part “a” above.
(Since the experiment is conducted in groups of two students, one student performs
part “a”, the other one performs part “b”)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Your Lab Report for next week:
 Lab reports should be submitted the following week at the beginning of the lab
period.
 10 points will be deducted per day, for late submission of the report
 Should be a neatly typed report with tables, graphs and circuits printed out. All
figures, tables and graphs should be properly titled and numbered i.e. Fig. 1, Table 1.
etc.
 Do not submit an identical report as your lab partner.
1.

Introduction should contain purpose of experiment in a couple of sentences and an
introduction to the experiment. Include also the circuit diagram.

2.

Background Information on:
- Rectifier diodes (forward and reverse bias)
- Discuss the behavior of the two circuits above

3.

Experimental results can be shown along with the expected results. Using your
favorite plotting software (Matlab, Excel etc), plot, the I-V characteristics of
diode, Id vs. Vd, for both forward and reverse bias (on the same graph). Use data
points (not line) for your plots.
From your graph estimate the values of threshold or turn on voltage of diode „vf’
and the reverse-bias saturation current of diode „Is‟. In forward bias the first factor
of the basic relationship equation of diode is very large as compared to its second
factor and the diode equation can be written as

Using this equation and the value of Is you estimated, find out the values of  and
check if the values are almost constant or not. Use VT = 26mV.
4.

Discussion
Analyze the data and compare it with the expected results. Include you results and
graphs obtained during the pre-lab from your MultiSim simulation. Explain
discrepancies if any with values of Vf and Is obtained during simulation. Include
quantitative error analysis also.
Questions:
The following questions should be answered in your report
a) Using the data collected during the experiment, calculate the power dissipated
by the diode for:
i. Vd=0.2V
ii. Vd=0.7V
iii. Vd=-3V.

b) Do you expect the diode to dissipate more power in the forward bias vs. reverse
bias? Why?
c) What is the purpose of the 1k resistor in the circuits above?
d) What could happen to the diode if there was no series resistor (i.e. 1K)?
5.

Conclusion
Give a thoughtful conclusion of the experiment. Do not at any point use
statements like “I really learned a lot…” “This helped me learn…”. Each student
should include his/her own, individual conclusion.

Individual points are assigned based on neatness, completeness, and overall quality of
work. The Discussion and Conclusion should be separate, do not combine them together
in one part.
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