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Dept of EEE VFSTR University

Intrinsic and extrinsic semi conductors with their energy band diagrams, Mass
action law, Formation of pn junction diode, PN diode working under forward and
reverse bias, current components & V-I characteristics of diode, diode equation,
temperature dependence of V-I characteristics, energy band diagram of diode,
transition and diffusion capacitances, specifications of diodes, breakdowns in
diodes, zener diode, tunnel diode, varactor diode, LED, photo diode and LCD.
To familiarize the students about the different types of semi conductors.
To familiarize the students about the different types of diodes available (PN
junction, Zener, Tunnel and Varactor).
After the completion of the unit the students will be able to
Identify different types of diodes depending on the characteristics.
Calculation of transition and diffusion capacitance.
1. J.Millman and CC Halkias, Electronic Devices and Circuits, 2nd ed.,
Tata McGraw-Hill, , 2007.
2. S.Salivahanan, Electronic Devices and Circuits , 5th ed.,Tata McGraw-
Hill, 2010.
1. R.L.Boylestad and Lovis Nashelsky, Electronic Devices and Circuits
Theory, 10th ed., Pearson Education, 2010.
2. N.N.Bhargava, Basic Electronics and Linear Circuits, 1st ed.,Tata
McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Semiconductor Diodes Page 1 K Rachananjali

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Based on the ability of conduction of electrons, all the
materials are classified as conductors, insulators and semiconductors. A
conductors is a very good carrier of electricity.
Ex: Silver, Copper, Aluminum etc.
An insulator is a very poor conductor.
Ex: Glass, Wood, Mica etc.
A semiconductor having conductivity which is between conductor and an
Ex: Silicon and Germanium.
These semiconductors do not conduct current at low temperature but as
the temperature increases, these behave as good conductors.
Classification of Semiconductor:
Semiconductors are classified as (a) Intrinsic (pure) and (b)
Extrinsic (impure) types. The extrinsic semiconductors are of N-type and
Intrinsic Semiconductor:
A semiconductor in its purest form is called intrinsic
semiconductor. The impurity level is very small, of the order of one part
in 100 million parts of semiconductor.
Intrinsic Semiconductors behave as a perfect insulator at
absolute temperature. At room temperature, some of the valence
electrons absorb the thermal energy. So they break the covalent bond and
enter into the conduction band. Such electrons become free to move in
the crystal one and are called conduction electrons. A missing electron in
Semiconductor Diodes Page 2 K Rachananjali
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the valence bond leaves a vacant space which is known as a hole, as

shown in fig 1.1


So free electrons and holes get generated in pairs. In an intrinsic

semiconductor, the concentration of free electrons and holes is equal.
These thermally generated electrons and holes move
randomly and cannot constitute any current. Under the influence of
applied voltage, these carriers move in a particular direction, causing the
flow of current as shown in Fsig. 1.2 holes are positively charged
particles. So they move towards the negative terminal of the battery.
Electrons move towards the positive terminal of the battery. Though the
total current inside the semiconductor is due to free electrons and holes,
the current in the external wire is fully by electrons.
Semiconductor Diodes Page 3 K Rachananjali
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Extrinsic Semiconductor:
At room temperature, the conduction capability of an intrinsic
semiconductor is very little. Its conduction properties should be
increased, in order to use in electronic devices. This can be done by
adding some impurities to the intrinsic semiconductors. The added
impurity is very small of order of one atom per million atoms of pure
semiconductor. The process of adding pure impurity to a semiconductor
is known as doping. Such a semiconductor is called extrinsic
Depending on the type of impurity added, the extrinsic
semiconductor can be divided into two types
a) N- type semiconductor and b) P- type semiconductor
N- Type extrinsic semiconductor:

When a small amount of pentavalent impurity is added to a pure

semiconductor, N type extrinsic semiconductor is formed. Some
examples of pentavalent impurity are arsenic, antimony or phosphorous.
Silicon has 4 valence electrons and Arsenic has 5 valence
electrons. Each Arsenic atom uses 4 valence electrons and form 4
covalent bonds by taking of electron from 4 nearby silicon atoms. The
fifth electron of Arsenic is loosely bound to its parent atom and gets
become free. This electron is available as a carrier of current. The
amount of energy needed to detach this fifth valence electron from the
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impurity atom is of the order of only 0.01eV for Ge and 0.05eV for Si.
This energy is very small and may be provided with thermal agitation at
room temperature. A small amount of arsenic impurity provides enough
atoms to supply millions of free electrons.
Each impurity atom donates one electron to the
semiconductor, it is called donor impurity. After donating one electron,
Arsenic atom becomes positively charged ion. It cannot take part in
conduction because it is fixed in the crystal lattice.

Concentration of electrons will be increased in conduction band than

the concentration of holes in the valence band. Donor impurity atoms
form a new energy level of the order of 0.01eV for Ge and 0.05eV for Si
below the conduction band.
In N type semiconductor, electrons are the majority carriers
while holes are the minority carriers. But as a whole, N type
semiconductor is electrically neutral. Fermi level shifts towards the

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conduction band due to increase of concentration of electrons in

conduction band.
P-type Semiconductor:
When a small amount of trivalent impurity such as gallium,
boron or indium, is added to a pure semiconductor a P-type
semiconductor is formed. The trivalent impurity has three valence

Consider the formation of P-type material by adding boron to

Silicon. Boron atom form three complete covalent by using its three
valence electrons with three adjacent silicon atoms. Fourth covalent bond
is incomplete because there is a deficiency of one electron for boron.
This vacancy is called a hole. Each boron atom gives one hole to the
silicon. The number of holes will depend on the amount of impurity
added to the silicon.
At room temperature, electron from the neighboring atom acquires
sufficient energy and fills the vacancy in the incomplete bond. But this
creates a vacancy in the adjacent bond from where the electron was
jumped, which is nothing but a hole.

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After accepting one electron, boron atom becomes a negatively

charged ion. Even a small amount of impurity is added, large number of
holes get created in the P-type material. In a P-type material, holes are
the majority carriers and electrons are the minority carriers. Acceptor
ions create one energy level above the valence band. The gap between
valence band and acceptor level is 0.01ev for Germanium and 0.05ev for
Silicon. Fermi level shift towards the valence band. It lies above the
acceptor energy level. At room temperature, the electrons from valence
band jump to acceptor energy level. Representation of P-type
semiconductor is shown in above Fig.
Mass Action Law:
In a pure semiconductor, the number of electrons same as
number of holes. This is due to the thermal energy for which equal
number of free electron-hole pairs is generated.
If the pure semiconductor is doped with donor impurities,
the number of electrons in the conduction band increases and number of
holes in the valence band decreases. Reduction in holes is due to the
recombination, and enhancement in electron is due to doping.
Similarly acceptor impurities are added, the number of
electrons in conduction band decreases and number of holes in valence
band increases.

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Under thermal equilibrium, for any semiconductor, the

product of number of electron and number of holes is constant and is
independent of amount of doping.
This relation is known as mass action law.

Where n=number of free electrons per unit volume
p=number of holes per unit volume
=Intrinsic concentration

Charge density

d2 v
dx E

E = - dx

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Potential barrier for

holes v = -

Potential barrier for electrons

A PN junction is formed by adding acceptor impurities to the left side

and donor impurities to the right side of a semiconductor.
P region has more number of holes, very less number of
electrons and more number of immobile negative ions. N region has
more number of electrons, very less number of holes and more number of
immobile positive ions. Each region is electrically neutral because each
of them carries equal positive and negative charges.
There exists a concentration gradient across the junction.
Hence some of the holes diffuse across the boundary from p side to n
side. Similarly some of the electrons diffuse from n side to p side
material. This is called diffusion.
In the displacement of changes due to recombination of
electrons and holes, an electric field appears across the junction.
Equilibrium is established when the field becomes large enough to
restrain the process of diffusion. The general shape of the charge
distribution is shown in fig b. This shape depends on the nature of diode

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The free electrons crossing the junction create negative ions on p

side. Similarly holes create positive ions on n side. As negative ions are
created on p side it acquires a positive potential. Similarly positive ions
are created on side and acquire a positive potential as shown in fig d.
Both these positive and negative potentials prevent migration of
any more charges across the junction. Thus initial distribution of charge
carriers creates a barrier potential at the junction. Hence the region
around the junction is depleted of mobile carriers it is called as depletion
region or space charge region or transition region.
The thickness of this region is of the order of wavelength of visible
light i.e. 0.5m. For further diffusion of carriers across the junction,
some potential energy is required. This potential is called barrier
potential or Contact potential or Diffusion potential denoted as V0. The
value of 0 varies with doping levels and temperatures.
Generally 0 =0.3 V for Ge at room temperature
=0.7 V for Si
PN junction as a diode:-
The electrical characteristic of a PN junction is that it constitutes a diode
which allows easy flow in one direction and restricts in other direction.
Forward Bias-:

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Dept of EEE VFSTR University

When a battery is connected to a PN junction diode that the positive

terminal of the battery is connected P section and negative terminal is
connected to N section, then the junction is said to be forward biased.
When the PN junction is forward biased, holes and repelled
from the battery positive terminal and electrons are repelled by the
negative terminal. Both holes and electrons move towards junction.
Because of this acquired energy, some of holes and free electrons
penetrate the depletion region. This reduces the potential barrier. As a
result of this more majority carriers diffuse across the junction. These
carriers recombine and cause movement of charge carriers in the space
charge region.
The junction offers very low resistance for forward bias. The
current continues as long as the battery is in the circuit. If the battery
voltage is increased, the barrier potential is further reduced and more
majority carriers cross the junction and results in more current.
Note that current in the external circuit is only due to
electrons where as in the semiconductor it is due to both electrons and
Reverse Bias:-

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If battery positive terminal is connected to N section and negative

terminal is connected to P section, then it is said to be reverse biased.
The holes in the P region are attracted towards the battery
negative terminal and electrons in the N region are attracted towards
positive terminal. These majority carriers are drawn away from the
junction. This action widens the depletion region and increases the
barrier potential compared to unbiased diode.
Due to this increased barrier potential, the majority carriers
cannot diffuse across the junction. However this barrier potential is
helpful to the minority carriers in crossing the junction.
The rate of generation of minority carriers depends upon the
temperature. If the temperature is fixed, the rate of generation is also
fixed. Therefore the current due to flow of minority carriers remains the
same, whether the battery voltage is low or high. For this reason, this
current is called reverse saturation current. This current is very small and
is of order nA for Si diodes and A for Ge diodes.
Current Components in a PN junction Diode:

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When a forward bias is applied to a diode, holes are injected into N

side from P side and electrons are injected into P side from N side. The
number of these injected carriers decreases exponentially with the
distance from the junction due to recombination.
There are two minority currents
1) Due to electrons in the P region denoted as

2) Due to holes in the N region denoted as I

But both these currents vary with distance, they are represented as (x)
and I (x)

Electrons crossing from N to P will constitute current in the same

direction as holes crossing from P to N.
Hence total current at the junction is the total conventional current I
flowing through the circuit.
I=I (0) + (0)

Where x=0
I (0) decreases on N side as we move away from the junction.
Similarly (0) decreases on P side as we move away from the junction.

Since current is same throughout a series circuit, I is independent of x

and is indicated as a horizontal line in the Fsig.
Due to electric field, there exists another current component
n P side. This drift current is due to majority carriers i.e. holes in P
side. As the holes approach the junction, some of holes combine with
electrons, so decreases near the junction. Remaining enters the N
side and becomeI .

Semiconductor Diodes Page 13 K Rachananjali

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In a forward biased PN diode, the current enters the P side as a hole

current and leaves N side as electron current of same amplitude. The
current in PN diode is bipolar. Since it is due to both electrons and holes.
V-I characteristics of a diode:


When a forward bias is applied to a PN junction diode. The forward

current .If is almost zero up to a forward voltage less than 0 i.e. the
region OA. This is because the potential barrier prevents the electrons
from N side and holes from P side crossing the junction and move
towards N section and electrons towards P section, So that the potential
barrier is completely disappeared. Then large current flows through the
diode. VI characteristics can be explained by using diode current

equation. i.e. =0 ( 1)
Where 0 =reverse saturation current.
=Volt equivalent of temperature

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At room temperature, =300K and =26mv

When the applied voltage V is positive and several times Vt then above
equation becomes.
=0 e vT
Here =1 for Ge
= 2 for Si
Hence current increases exponentially with V
The forward voltage below which the current is very small and
beyond this the current increases very rapidly is called cut in voltage or
offset voltage or threshold voltage. It is denoted as . Its value is 0.3V
for Ge and 0.7V for Si.
When a reverse bias is applied, there is no current flowing through
the diode. But a small reverse saturation current 0 flows due to minority
carriers. For large applied reverse bias, breakdowns occur and reverse
current increases rapidly. The reverse voltage at which the junction break
down occurs is known as breakdown voltage .
For reverse biased diode,

|v| is several times , and then is very small compared to
unity. Then the diode equation becomes I-0
The reverse current is thus constant and independent of the applied
reverse bias. Its value depends mainly upon the junction temperature.
0 Value will be in the order of A for Ge and nA for Si diodes.

Semiconductor Diodes Page 15 K Rachananjali

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Diode Equation:

Consider an open circuit PN junction.

Let be the density of holes in P region.

Let be the density of electrons in P region.

Let be the density of electorns in n region.

Let be the density of holes in n region.
The density of holes in P region and the density of holes in n region are
related by Boltzmann equation.


Where =Barrier Voltage

=Volt equivalent of temp


For open circuit PN junction, =0

Then =
-------------------> (1)

When the PN junction is forward biased (with a voltage of V)

its barrier voltage will be decreased and let it to be -V with forward
bias, the hole density in N region exceeds from to + due to
diffusion of holes from P to N region.

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= ( + )

= ( + ) .
-----------------> (2)
Substitute equation (1) in (2)

=( + ) .

=( + )

+ =

= ( -1)

Substituting the value of in above equation

( -1)

The diffusion of holes constitute a hole current given by which

is proportional to .

( -1)

Where =constant

Similarly the expression for electron current in P region due to

diffusion of electrons is

= ( -1)

Total current I= +

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= ( -1) + ( -1)

I= 0 ( -1)

Where 0 =Saturation current

In above equation, Generation and recombination in depletion region is
neglected. To consider its effects, which is dominant in Si diodes, factor
is introduced.

I= 0 (

For forward bias I= 0 (
=1 for Ge ; =2for Si
If V is high, then

>>1, So I 0

For reverse bias, I= 0 ( -1)
If V is large, then

So I=0 ------------>Reverse saturation Current

Semiconductor Diodes Page 18 K Rachananjali

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Temperature Dependence of V-I Characteristics:-

dotted line represents VI Characteristic at 75 C

solid line represents VI Characteristic at 25 C

In a semiconductor the generation of electron-hole pairs increases with

the temperature, so their conductivity also increases. So the current
through the PN junction diode increases with temperature.
The diode current is given by

I= 0 (
The reverse saturation current 0 increases approximately 7%/c
So for every 10c rise in temperature 0 will be doubled. At fixed voltage,
if the temperature increases, the current also increases. To bring the
current to its original value, Voltage should be reduced. It is found that at

room temperature =-2.5mv/c in order to maintain a constant current.

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The barrier voltage is also temperature dependent and its value decreases
2 1
by 2mv/c. This is given by 0 2 = 0 1 *2 10

Where 0 1 =Saturation current at1 .

0 2 =Saturation current at2 .

A germanium diode can be used up to a maximum of 75c and a silicon

diode to a maximum of 175c.
Energy band diagram of a diode:
When the PN junction is formed, the energy band diagrams of
these two regions undergo shift to equalize the Fermi level. Such a shift
does not distribute the relative positions of conduction band, valence
band and Fermi level in any region.
Equalization of Fermi levels in the P and N materials of a PN
junction is similar to equalization of levels of water in two containers
when joined together.
When the PN junction is formed, transfer of carriers
(electrons or holes) takes place until the Fermi levels on the two sides get
equalized. Generally Fermi level is closer to conduction band edge
in n type material while it is closer to valence band edge in P type

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1 E0
2 ECn
E1 E0
EG _ E2

Conduction Band edge in P type is higher than in N type and

in P type is higher than in N type material. 1 and 2 indicate the
shifts in the Fermi level from the intrinsic conditions in P and N materials
Total shift in energy level 0 is given by
0 =1 +2 = - = -

E0 is the potential energy of the electron at the PN junction.

0 =q0
Where V0 is the contact potential or barrier potential
- = -1
- = -2

Combining above two equations, we get

0 =1 +2 = - ( - )-( - ) ---------------> (1)

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We know that np= and np=2
From above equations, we get

= ln ----------------> (2)

For N type material = - ln

- = ln ----------------> (3)

Similarly for P type material = + ln

- = ln ----------------> (4)

Substituting equations (2), (3), (4) in equation (1)

0 = [ln - ln - ln ]

= ln [ * * ]

0 = ln

0 = ln

Diode resistance:
An ideal diode after zero resistance in forward bias condition
and infinite resistance in reverse bias condition. But no diode can act as
an Ideal diode. So actual diode offers less resistance in forward bias and
very high resistance in reverse bias.

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D.C or Static Resistance:

It is defined as the ratio of the voltage to the current in the

forward bias characteristics of PN junction diode. Its value varies with V
and I, so it is not a useful parameter.
A.C or Dynamic Resistance:-
It is defined as the reciprocal of the slope of the volt ampere
=Change in Voltage/resulting change in current


AC resistance is the sum of bulk resistance and the

junction . Bulk resistance includes the ohmic resistance of P and N
Reverse Resistance:
It is resistance offered by the PN diode under reverse biased
condition. It is very large compared to forward resistance. Its range will
be several mega ohms.
Transition Capacitance (CT):-
When a reverse bias is applied to a PN diode, the majority
carriers (both electrons and holes) move away from the junction. Hence a
width of the depletion region at the junction increases. This increase in
the width of the depletion region with the applied reverse voltage can be
considered as a capacitive effect. Transition capacitance CT can be
expressed as


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Where dQ is the increase in charge caused by a change in

voltage dV.

As reverse bias is increased, width of depletion region (w)

increases. As CT is inversely proportional to w, transition capacitance
Diffusion Capacitance:
When a forward bias is applied to a diode, the capacitance
offered is called diffusion capacitance or storage capacitance CD.
In forward biased condition, the width of depletion region
decreases and holes are diffused from P side to N side while electrons
move from N side to P side. As the applied voltage increases,
concentration of injected charged particle increases. Diffusion
capacitance is defined as the rate of change of injected charge with the

applied voltage. =

Diffusion Capacitance increases exponentially with forward

bias or it is proportional to diode forward current the values of range
from 10 to 1000PF. The effect of is negligible for a reverse biased PN
junction. The Value of is much larger than .
CD (np or p)

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Break Downs in Diodes:-

The sharp increasing current under break down conditions is
due to the following two mechanisms.
1) Avalanche Break down
2) Zener Break down
1) Avalanche Break Down:
When a small reverse bias is applied to a PN diode, less
number of thermally generated carriers cross the junction and results
small current. But the reverse bias increases, the field across the junction
also increases.
Thermally generated carriers while travelling through the junctions
acquire a large amount of kinetic energy. Then velocity of these carriers
increase and they collide with the immobile ions. This result new
electron-hole pairs generation. Then these carriers acquire sufficient
energy and collide with other immobile ions. The electron-hole pairs are
generated further. This process is cumulative in nature and results in
generation of a valance (multiplication) of charge carriers within a short
time. This results in large amount of current at the same value of reverse
voltage. This carriers generation mechanism is called Avalanche
2) Zener Break Down:
This break down takes place in very thin junction i.e. when
both sides of junction are very heavily doped. So the depletion layer is
narrow when a small reverse bias voltage is applied, a very strong
electric field about 107v/m is set up across the depletion layer. This field
is sufficient to break or rapture the covalent bonds. Then large number of
electrons and holes produced which constitute the current in reverse bias
Semiconductor Diodes Page 25 K Rachananjali
Dept of EEE VFSTR University

condition. This current is the reverse saturation current or zener current.

Zener current is independent of the applied voltage and depends only on
the external resistance.
When a diode breaks down, both zener and avalanche effects
are present. At reverse voltage less than 6v, Zener break down
predominates while at about 8v, avalanche break down predominates.
Zener diode Characteristics:

Zener diode is a reverse biased heavily doped silicon or

germanium PN junction diode. It is operated in the break down region.
Due to higher temperature and current capability, silicon is preferred in
comparison to Germanium. The V-I characteristics is shown in fig. When
a Zener diode is forward biased, its characteristics are just same as
ordinary diode. When the reverse voltage applied to a Zener diode is
increased, a value is reached at which the current through the diode
increases (in region AB), the voltage across the Zener diode serves as a
reference voltage. Zener diode can be widely used as voltage regulator.

Semiconductor Diodes Page 26 K Rachananjali

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Tunnel Diode:
A tunnel diode is a high conductivity PN junction diode
doped heavily about 1000 times higher than a conventional junction
The impurity concentration in a conventional diode is 1 part
in 108 atoms. With this doping, the depletion layer is relatively wide. If
the concentration of impurity atoms is greatly increased by about 1000
times, width of depletion layer reduces to about 10-6cm and the device
characteristics are completely changed. When there is not enough energy
to overcome the potential barrier, many carriers penetrate through the
junction. Consequently, large forward current is produced.

V-I characteristics of tunnel diode are shown in fig. As soon as

the forward bias is applied, Significant current is produced. When the
applied forward voltage reaches a value VP, the current quickly reaches
its peak value IP at point A. When the forward bias is further increased,
the diode current stars decreasing. This may continue up to valley point
B. At that point, the voltage is VV and current is IV. The forward bias is

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further increased, the characteristics will be same as a conventional

diode. The most useful property of the diode is that the portion AB in the
characteristic. In this portion, the tunnel diode offers negative resistance
as the voltage increases, the current decreases. Hence the tunnel diode
can be used as a very high frequency oscillator. The reverse current also
increases with the applied reverse voltage.

a) No Forward bias
No Tunneling

b) Peak voltage
Full Tunneling

c) Valley voltage
Tunneling Stopped

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The tunneling phenomenon can be explained by considering the energy

band diagram of P type and N type semiconductor materials. When no
forward bias is applied, from fig (a) it is obvious that there is rough
alignment of their respective valence and conduction bands. The energy
levels of holes in P region are slightly out of alignment with the energy
levels of electrons in N region. No current flows across the junction.
When a small forward voltage (0.1v) is applied, N region energy levels
move upward relative to two energy levels. At this stage, electrons tunnel
through the depletion region with the velocity of light and results a large
current. After peak point, as voltage is increased, the current starts
decreasing because the energy levels of N region are so high i.e. two
bands are out of alignment. Then tunneling is stopped as shown in fig(C).
1) Ultra high speed switch
2) Logic memory storage device
3) Microwave oscillator
4) Relaxation oscillator circuit
5) Amplifier
Varactor Diode:

Circuit Symbol

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The varactor diode is a variable capacitance diode also called a varicap. It

is also a PN junction diode with a small impurity concentration at the
junction. It has a property that its junction capacitance may be varied
electronically. When the diode is reverse biased, both holes and electrons
move outwards from the junction. Hence the width of depletion region
increases. This depletion region acts like as insulator because there are no
majority carriers in the depletion region. P and N regions behave as two
plates of a capacitor. So the varactor diode behaves as a capacitor.

As the capacitance is inversely proportional to the distance between the

plates, the capacitance offered by the varactor diode also varies
inversely with the reverse voltage applied when a reverse bias is
increased, depletion region width increases and the transition capacitance
decreases. At zero volts, varactor has less depletion region width, and the
capacitance is large (600PF). When the reverse bias voltage increases
(15V), the capacitance is 30PF.
Applications of Varactor diode:
1) FM radio
2) TV receiver
3) AFC circuits
4) Adjustable band pass filters.

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Light Emitting Diode (LED):

The light emitting diode is a PN junction. When this diode is
forward biased, it emits light. This phenomenon is called
electroluminescence. In silicon and Germanium diodes, more energy is
radiated in the form of heat and in significant energy is radiated as light.
In other materials such as gallium phospide (Gap) or gallium arsenide
phosphide (Ga As P), the number of photons of light energy emitted is
sufficient to create a visible light source.

c) Recombination and emission of light

When a forward bias is applied to an LED, both the electrons and holes
move towards the junction and they will recombine. Due to this
recombination, the electrons in the conduction band of N region fall into
the holes in the valence band of a P region. The difference of energy
between the conduction band and valence is radiated in the form of light
energy. The brightness of the emitted light is directly proportional to the
forward bias current. Recombination of carriers and emission of light of
LED will be shown in fig C. First take a substrate, an N type layer is
grown on that substrate and a P type layer is deposited on it by diffusion.
Since carrier recombination takes place in P layer, it is kept upper most.
A metal film is applied to the bottom of the substrate for reflecting as
much light as possible to the surface and also to provide cathode
connection LEDs are always encased to protect their delicate wires.

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The wavelength of the light emitted and thus its colour depends on the
band gap energy of the materials forming the PN junction.
Gallium Arsenide (Ga As)-infrared radiation (invisible)
Gallium Phosphide (Ga P)-red or green
Gallium Arsenide Phosphide (Ga As P)-red or yellow
When LEDs are reverse biased, they emit no light. LEDs operate at
voltage levels from 1.5 V to 3.3 V with some tens of mill amperes
current. LEDs require power of 10 to 150mw with a life time of 100000+
They are used in wide applications.
Burglar Alarms, Picture Phones, Multimeters , Calculators, Digital
Meters, Microprocessors, Digital Computers etc
Photo diode:
A photo diode is a two terminal PN junction device which operates in a
reverse bias. It converts light signals into electric signals. It is also called
photo detector.

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When a PN diode is reverse biased, very small current results. The

same is true for a photo diode. The reverse biased current is produced by
thermally generated electron-hole pairs in the depletion layer. These are
swept across the junction by the electric field created by the reverse
voltage. In a rectifier diode, the reverse current increases with the
temperature due to an increase in the number of electron-hole pairs.
In a photo diode reverse current increases with the light
intensity at the PN junction. The magnitude of photo current depends on
the illumination of the diode element. When there is no incident light, the
reverse current is very small and is called the dark current. An increase in
the amount of light energy produces an increase in the reverse current,
for a given value of reverse bias voltage.
The photo diode is kept in a scaled plastic or glass casing. This cover is
so designed that the light rays are allowed to fall on one surface across
the junction. Remaining sides are painted to stop the penetration of light
rays will fall on the junction by using a lens.
When a reverse bias is applied, the current flowing is given by

I= +0 (1-
Where 0 =reverse saturation current
=Short circuit current proportional to light intensity
V=Voltage across the diode
=Volt equivalent of temperature
=Parameters,1 for Ge and 2 for Si

Semiconductor Diodes Page 33 K Rachananjali

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Photo detection, Demodulation, Logic circuit, High speed switching
Optical communication systems.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD):
LCDs are passive type display devices used for display of numeric and
alphanumeric character in dot matrix and segmental display. The main
advantage of LCD is the low power consumption because no light
generation is required. Normally two liquid crystal materials are used
such as nematic and cholesteric.
Based on the construction, LCDs are classified as
a) Dynamic scattering type and b) Field effect type.

Semiconductor Diodes Page 34 K Rachananjali

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The molecules in ordinary liquids normally have random orientations. In

liquid crystals, the molecules oriented in a definite crystal patterns as
shown in fig a.
Dynamic Scattering Type:
This consists of a layer of liquid crystal material sand witched between
glass sheets. These sheets are coated with tin oxide on the inside with
transparent electrodes. Liquid crystal having a thickness of 5 to 50m.
When a weak electric field is applied, molecules of liquid crystal are
aligned in the field direction. As the voltage increases further, the crystal
turns optically inhomogeneous. In this state, it scatters light in all
directions. Then the call appears to be bright. This phenomenon is known
as dynamic scattering.
Field Effect type:
Construction of field effect LCD is similar to that of a dynamic scattering
type. But in this type, two thin polarizing optical filters are placed at
inside of each glass sheet. When the cell is energized, cell appears dull
because there is no change in direction of polarization. When the cell is
not energized, LCD material twists the light passing through the cell.
Then the light will pass through the optical filters and the cell appears
Liquid crystal cells are of two types.
a) When both glass sheets ate transparent, the cell is known as
transmitive type cell.
b) When only one glass sheet is transparent on the other has reflective
coating, the cell is called as reflective type.

Semiconductor Diodes Page 35 K Rachananjali

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1) Required voltage is small.
2) Low power consumption.
3) They are economical.
1) Very slow devices.
2) They occupy a large area.
3) They are used with a.c supplies having a frequently less than 50Hz.
Specifications of semiconductor diodes:
Specification sheets of some of the commonly used PN junction diode,
Zener diode, Varactor diode, Tunnel diode are given in the following

Semiconductor Diodes Page 36 K Rachananjali