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Power Electronic Devices 1.



Power Electronics belongs partly to power

engineers and partly to Electronic Engineers. The
Electronic devices such as Diode, BJT and FET etc. are
working in low power ranges i.e, signal level. But Power
Electronics is a subject that concerns the application of
electronic-principles into situations that are rated at
power level rather than signal level. Along the
development of Power Electronics, power MOSFET & IGBT
(Insulated Gate Bipolar transistors) are also designed.
The most commonly used Power Electronic device
is SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier). Present day SCRs
can have voltage rating up to 10 kV and rms current
rating up to 3000 Amp with power handling capacity of
In our modern system Power Electronics are used
for controlling or converting our power supply to the
required level.

Power Supply Power Electronic

(Electric Energy Device Load
Source) (Converter/Controller)

Fig. 1.1 A General Power Electronic System

1.2 Power Electronics

1.0.1 Advantages of Power Electronic Devices

1. High Efficiency due to low loss in power semi

conductor devices.
2. High reliability of Power Electronic converter
3. Long life and less maintenance due to absence of
moving parts.
4. Fast dynamic response of power-Electronic
systems as compared to electro-mechanical
converter systems.
5. Small size and weight result in less floor space
and therefore lower installation cost.
6. Mass production of power -semi conductor devices
has resulted in lower cost of the converter

1.0.2 Applications of Power Electronics

1. Residential : Air conditioning, cooking, space

heating, lighting, refrigerators, electric door
openers, dryers, fans, personnel computers, other
entertainment equipment, vacuum cleaners,
washing and sewing machines, light dimmers, food
mixers, electric blankets, food-warmer trays.
2. Commercial: Advertising, heating, air-condi-
tioning, central refrigeration, computer and office
equipment, uninterrupted power supply, elevators,
light dimmers, and flashers.
Power Electronic Devices 1.3

3. Industrial : Arc and industrial furnaces, blowers

and fans, pumps and compressors, industrial
lasers, transformer-tap changers, rolling mills,
textile mills, excavators, cement mills, welding.
4. Transportation : Traction control of electric
vehicles, electric locomotives, street cars, trolley
buses, subways, automotive electronics and battery
5. Tele-Communication : Battery chargers, power
supplies (dc).
6. Aerospace : Space shuttle power supplies, aircraft
power systems.
7. Utility systems : High voltage dc transmission
(HVDC), excitation systems, VAR compensation,
static circuit-breakers, fans and boiler-feed pumps,
supplementary energy systems.


Thyristor is a general name given to a family of

power semiconductor switching devices. The thyristor
has four or more layers and three or more junctions.
The SCR is most widely used and important member of
the thyristor family. The SCR is almost universally
referred as the thyristor.
The name thyristor is derived by a combination of
the capital letters from the THYRatron and transISTOR.
1.4 Power Electronics


Device Symbol









T1 T2



Power Electronic Devices 1.5

The following are the thyristor family devices.

1. SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier)
2. DIAC (Bidirectional diode thyristor)
3. TRIAC (Bidirectional triode thyristor)
4. GTO SCR (Gate turn-OFF SCR)
5. SUS (Silicon Unilateral Switch)
6. SCS (Silicon Controlled Switch)
7. SBS (Silicon Bilateral Switch)
8. PUT (Programmable unjunction transistor)
9. LASCR (Light Activated SCR)
10. LASCS (Light Activated SCS)
11. ASCR (Asymmetrical SCR)
12. RCT (Reverse Conducting Thyristor)
13. Power MOSFET
14. SITH (Static Induction Thyritor)
15. MCT (Mos-Controlled Thyritor)
16. IGBT (Insulated Gate Bi-polar Transistor)
17. FET-CTH (FET-Controlled Thyristor)
18. Schottky diode.
(For ISI symbols of power electronic devices see
the previous page.)


SCR is a four layer, three junction, three terminal,

p-n-p-n semiconductor switching device. Fig 1.2(a) gives
constructional details of typical thyristor.
Basically, a thyristor consists of four layers of
alternate P-type and N-type silicon semi conductors
forming three junctions J1, J2 and J3 as shown in Fig.
1.6 Power Electronics

1.2(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 shown in Fig. 1.2(a). Schematic
diagram and circuit symbol for a thyristor are shown
respectively in Fig. 1.2(b) & (c).
The Terminal connected to outer P-region is called
Anode (A), the terminal connected to outer N-region is
called Cathode (K) and that connected to inner P-region
is called the Gate (G).
(A) Anode
stud Anode
(Aluminium) P
N Gate P
J2 (G) J3 Gate
Gate terminal J3
welded to
P-region Cathode Cathode
Cathode (K)

(a) Constructional details (b) Schematic diagram (c) Symbol

Fig. 1.2
For large current applications, thyristor need
better cooling, this is achieved to a great extent by
mounting them onto heat sinks. SCR rating has improved
considerably since its introduction in 1957.
Now SCRS of voltage rating 10kV and an rms
current rating of 3000A with Corresponding power-
handling capacity of 30MW are available such a high
power thyristor can be switched on by a low voltage supply
of about 1A and low.
An SCR is so called because silicon is used for its
construction and its operation as a rectifier can be
Power Electronic Devices 1.7

controlled. The SCR is an "uni directional device" that

blocks the current flow from Cathode to Anode. But by
proper triggering the gate terminal (i.e, by proper gate
signal between Gate and Cathode terminal.) the SCR
will conduct. Hence the SCR is used as "controlled





_ Es

_ K
(a) Circuit diagram for obtaining V-I characteristics of Thyristor
Forward conduction
mode (on-state)
Latching current
Holding current Ig3 > Ig2 > Ig1 > Ig0 = 0

Ig3 I Ig1 Ig = 0
Reverse leakage
current IL


Reverse blocking Forward
blocking mode Forward
mode leakage current
VBO3 < VBO2 < VBO1 < VBO
VBO = Forward break over voltage

Q VBR = Reverse breakdown voltage

a Ig = Gate current
IL = Latching current
IH = Holding current
(b) Static V-I characteristics
Fig. 1.3
1.8 Power Electronics

An elementary circuit diagram for obtaining static

V-I characteristics of a thyristor is shown Fig. 1.3(a).
The Anode and Cathode are connected to main source
through the load. The Gate and Cathode are fed from a
source Es which provides positive Gate current from Gate
to Cathode.
Fig. 1.3(b) shows static V-I characteristics of a
thyristor. Here Va is the Anode voltage across thyristor
terminals A & K and I a is the Anode current. The V-I
characteristics of SCR Shows that a thyristor has 3 basic
modes of operation, namely
1. Forward blocking mode (off state)
2. Forward conduction (on state)
3. Reverse blocking mode.


1.5.1 Forward Blocking Mode

+ A _ A
p p
J1 J1
n n
p p
G J3 J3
n G
_ leakage
K + K current

(a) J2 reverse biased and (b) J2 Forward biased and

J1, J3 Forward biased J1, J3 Reverse biased
Fig. 1.4
Power Electronic Devices 1.9

When Anode is positive with respect to the Cathode,

with Gate circuit open, thyristor is said to be forward
biased as shown Fig. 1.4(a). From the Fig. the junctions
J1, J3 are forward biased and J2 is reverse biased. In
this mode, a small current due to minority carriers,
called leakage current flows as shown in Fig. 1.4(a). If
the forward voltage is increased, then the reverse biased
junction J2 will have an "avalanche break down" at a
voltage called "forward break over voltage" (VBO). When
forward voltage is less than V BO SCR offers a high
impedance. There fore, a thyristor can be treated as an
open switch even in the forward biasing state.

1.5.2 Forward Conduction Mode

In this mode, thyristor conducts current from

Anode to Cathode with a very small voltage drop across
it. A thyristor is brought from forward blocking mode to
forward conduction mode by turning it 'ON' by exceeding
the forward break over voltage or by applying a Gate
pulse between Gate and Cathode. In this mode, thyristor
is in on-state and behaves like a closed switch. Voltage
drop across thyristor in this state is of the order of 1 to
2V depending on the rating of SCR. This small voltage
drop Vt across the device is due to ohmic drop in the
four layers.
Once the thyristor conducts, the Anode current is
limited by an external impedance or load. The Anode
current must be more than the value of "Latching
current (IL)" in order to maintain the thyristor ON-State,
1.10 Power Electronics

otherwise the thyristor will return to the blocking state.

"Latching Current is the minimum Anode current
required to maintain the thyristor in ON-State
immediately after a thyristor has been turned ON."
"Holding current is the minimum current required to
maintain the thyristor in ON-State.”

1.5.3 Reverse Blocking Mode

When Cathode is made positive with respect to

Anode with switch 'S' open, fig 1.3(a), thyristor is reverse
biased as shown in fig 1.4(b). Junction J1, J3 are seen to
be reverse biased where as junction J2 is Forward biased.
The device behaves as if two diodes are connected in
series with reverse voltage applied across them. A small
leakage current of the order of a few milli amperes (or
few micro amp depending upon the SCR rating) flows.
This is reverse blocking mode, called off-state of the
thyristor. If the reverse voltage is increased, then at a
critical voltage VBR, an avalanche break down occurs at
J 1 and J 3 and the reverse current increases rapidly.
This breakdown is called "Reverse avalanche breakdown"
and the voltage at which this break down occurs is called
as "Reverse break over voltage". A large current
associated with VBR gives rise to more losses in the SCR.
This may lead to thyristor damage as the junction
temperature may exceed its permissible temperature
rise. It should, therefore, be ensured that maximum
working reverse voltage across a thyristor does not
exceed VBR.
Power Electronic Devices 1.11


The principle of thyristor operation can be explained

with the use of its two- transistor model. Fig. 1.5(a)
shows schematic diagram of a thyristor. From this figure,
two-trasistor model is obtained by A
bisecting the two middle layers, Ia

along the dotted lines into two p

separate halves as shown in Fig. J1
1.5(b). n n

From the Fig. 1.5(b), the J2

p p
junctions J 1-J 2 and J 2-J 3 can be G Ig
considered as PNP and NPN n
transistor respectively. The circuit
representation of the two-
transistor model of a thyristor is K
(a) Schematic diagram
shown in Fig. 1.5(c).

Ia p
n IB
p α1, β1 1
J1 Q1
Ic 2
n n
J2 Ic1 J2 p IC
p p IC I2
G Ig J3 1
n α2, β2
G Ig IB p
2 2
K n
(b) and (c) Two transistor model
Fig. 1.5
1.12 Power Electronics

In the off-state of a thyristor, collector current Ic

is related to emitter current IE as
IC = α I E + IC

Where α - common base current gain

ICBO - common base leakage current of
collector -base junction
For transistor Q1,
Emitter current, IE = Anode current, Ia
And Ic = collector current, Ic1,
Therefore, for Q1,
IC = α1Ia + ICBO ................. (1)
1 1

Where α1= common-base current gain of Q1

ICBO = common - base leakage current of Q
1 1
Similarly, for transistor Q2,
IC = α 2I k + ICBO ................. (2)
2 2

Where α2= common - base current gain of Q2

ICBO = common - base leakage current of Q
2 2
IK = emitter current of Q2.
The sum of two collector currents given by
Equations (1) and (2) is equal to the Anode current.
∴ I a = IC + I C
1 2

= α1Ia + ICBO + α 2IK + ICBO ............ (3)

1 2

When Gate current is applied, then I K = I a +I g

substitute this value in equation (3).

Ia = α1Ia + ICBO + α 2 Ia + Ig + ICBO
) 2

α 2Ig + ICBO + ICBO

∴ Ia = 1 2

1 − ( α1 + α 2 )
Power Electronic Devices 1.13

For a silicon transistor, current gain α is very low

at lower emitter currents. With an increase in emitter
current, α builds up rapidly.
With gate current Ig = 0 and with thyristor forward
biased, (α1+ α2) is very low and forward leakage current
some what more than ICBO + ICBO flows. If by some means,
1 2

the emitter current of two component transistors can

be increased so that α1+ α2 approaches unity. Therefore
Ia would tend to become infinity there by turning - on
the device.


SCR rating indicate voltage, current, power and

temperature limits within a thyristor can be used
without damage. Ratings and specifications serve as a
link between the designer and the user of SCR systems.
For reliable operation of thyristor, it should be
ensured that its current, voltage ratings are not
exceeded during its working. The disadvantage of SCR
is it has low thermal time constant. If a thyristor handles
voltage, current, power greater than its specified value,
the junction temperature may rise rapidly and as a
result thyristor may get damaged.
The ratings of SCR are also dependent on the
working conditions (i.e., continuous, repetitive and non
- repetitive or surge conditions.)
A thyristor has several ratings, namely :
1. Anode voltage rating
2. Current rating
1.14 Power Electronics

3. Power rating
4. dv/dt rating
5. di/dt rating
6. Turn - ON and Turn - OFF times
7. Latching and holding currents
8. Gate circuit voltage, current and power ratings.
Some subscripts are associated with voltage and
current ratings for convenience in identifying them.
First subscript letter indicates the direction or state:
D → Forward - blocking region with gate circuit open
T → ON state
R → Reverse
F → Forward except for the Gate (G).
Second subscript letter indicates the operating values:
W → working value
R → Repetitive value
S → Surge or non - repetitive value
T → Trigger.
Third subscript letter 'M' indicates the maximum
or peak value.

1.7.1 Anode Voltage Ratings

The different Anode voltage ratings are as follows :

1. VDWM - Peak working forward - blocking voltage:

It specifies the maximum forward - blocking voltage

Power Electronic Devices 1.15

that a thyristor can withstand during its working.

Fig. 1.6(a) shows that VDWM is equal to the maximum
value of sine voltage wave.

2. VDRM - Peak repetitive forward-blocking voltage:

It refers the maximum transient voltage that a

thyristor can withstand repeatedly or periodically in its
forward-blocking mode. This rating is based on maximum
allowable junction temperature when Gate is in open.

3. VDSM - Peak surge (or non-repetitive) forward -

blocking voltage :

It refers to the peak value of the forward surge

voltage that does not repeat. Its value is about 130%
VDRM but less than VBO as shown in Fig. 1.6(b).


–Va +Va

(a) (b)

Fig. 1.6 Anode voltage ratings during the Blocking state of SCR

4. VRWM - Peak working reverse voltage :

It is the maximum reverse voltage that a thyristor

can with stand repeatedly. It is equal to peak negative
value of a sine voltage wave shown in Fig. 1.6(a).
1.16 Power Electronics

5. VRRM - Peak repetitive reverse voltage :

It specifies the peak reverse transient voltage that

may occur repeatedly in the reverse direction at the
maximum allowable junction temperature.

6. VRSM- Peak surge (or non-repetitive) reverse voltage:

It represents the peak value of the reverse surge

voltage that does not repeat. Its value is about 130% of

7. VT - ON state voltage drop :

It is the voltage drop between Anode and Cathode

during conduction. Its value is of the order of 1 to 1.5 V.

8. Forward dv /dt rating :

It is the maximum rate of rise of the Anode voltage

that will not trigger the device without any gate signal.
If dv /dt is more than the specified value, the thyristor
may be switched ON.

When forward voltage is suddenly applied to the

thyristor, a charging current i = c begins to flow and
it may acts as gate current to turn on the SCR. This
type of triggering is never employed.

1.7.2 Current Ratings

A thyristor is made up of semi conductor material,

it's thermal capacity is small. Even for short over
Power Electronic Devices 1.17

currents, the junction temperature may exceed the

rated value and the device may be damaged. As the
junction temperature is dependent on current handled
by a thyristor, a correct choice of current rating is
essential for long working life.
1. Average on - state current (ITAV) :
The power loss in the thyristor depends on the
value of average on - state current flowing through it.
The maximum allowable junction temperature is
2. R.M.S current rating (Irms) :
Heating of the resistive elements of a thyristor,
such as metallic joints, leads and interfaces depends
on the forward rms current (Irms). The rms value of current
for different conduction angle remains same.
3. Surge Current Rating :
When a thyristor is working under its repetitive
voltage and current ratings, its permissible junction
temperature will not exceed. But during abnormal
conditions or faults, it is necessary to specify the surge
current rating.
"A surge current rating indicates the maximum
possible non-repetitive or surge current with which the
device can with stand."
Three different surge current ratings are provided
by the manufacturers as for example, ITSM = 3000 A for
1.18 Power Electronics

ITSM = 2100 A for 3 cycles and

ITSM = 1800 A for 5 cycles.
Therefore, from the above ratings, it is clear that
the surge current rating is inversely proportional to the
duration of surge.
4. I2t rating :
This rating is employed in the choice of a fuse or
other protective equipment for thyristors. The rating
interms of amp 2-sec specifies the energy that device
can absorb for a short time before the fault is cleared.
The I2t rating is given by
(rms value of one-cycle of surge current) 2 × time
for one cycle.

5. rating :
It indicates the maximum rate of rise of current
from Anode to Cathode without any damage to the
When a thyristor is turned on, conduction starts
at a place near the gate. This small area of conduction
spreads to the whole area of junction. If the rate of rise
of Anode current ( di dt ) is large as compared to the
spreading velocity of carriers across the Cathode
junction, local hot spots will be formed near the gate
connection on account of high current density. This
causes the junction temperature to rise above the safe
limit and as a result, SCR may damaged permanently.
Typical values of di dt are in between 20 to 500 A/μ sec.
Power Electronic Devices 1.19

1.7.3 Turn-ON time of SCR

It is defined as the time during which it changes

from forward blocking state to final ON-state.
Total turn-on time can be divided in to three intervals,
(i) delay time, td (ii) rise rime, tr (iii) spread time, tp.

Anode voltage va
and gate current ig

A 0.9 Va

0.9 Ig On state voltage
drop across SCR
∴ TON = t d + t r + t p 0.1 Va

O t
Anode current Ia
Ia = Load current
0.9 Ia

0.1 Ia

O td tr tp t
leakage ton

Fig. 1.7(a) Turn-ON characteristics of SCR

Generally the turn-ON time of SCR lies between
2-10 μ sec.

1.7.4 Turn-OFF time of SCR

The turn-off time of a thyristor is defined as the

time between the instant Anode current becomes zero
1.20 Power Electronics

and the instant SCR regains its forward blocking


Voltage lied
ge app
e volta

se v =
oint b
n t zero p
O t

trr tr

Fig. 1.7(b) Turn-off time of SCR

It mainly consists of :
(i) Time for reverse recovery current flows after the
application of reverse voltage (trr).
(ii) Time of recombination of all excess carriers in all
the layers of the device (tr).
∴ toff = trr + tr.
Generally the turn-off time of SCR lies between
50 - 100 μ sec.


The forward gate characteristics of a thyristor are

shown in Fig. 1.8. In the form of a graph between gate
voltage and gate current. Here positive gate to cathode
voltage V g and positive gate to cathode current I g
represent dc values. As gate-cathode circuit of a
thyristor is a p-n junction, gate characteristics of the
Power Electronic Devices 1.21

device are similar to that of a diode. For a particular

type of SCRs, Vg-Ig characteristic has a spread between
two waves 1 and 2 as shown in Fig. 1.8. This spread of
gate characteristics is due to difference in the low doping
levels of p and n layers. The gate trigger circuitry must
be suitably designed to take care of this unavoidable
scatter of characteristics. In Fig. 1.8, curve 1 represents
the lowest voltage values that must be applied to turn-
on the SCR. Curve 2 gives the highest possible voltage
values that can be safely applied to gate circuit.
Each thyristor has m aximum limits as Vgm for gate
voltage and I gm for gate current. There is also rated
(average) gate power dissipation Pgav specified for each
SCR. These limits should not be exceeded in order to
avoid permanent damage of junction J3. There are also
minimum limits for Vg and Ig for reliable turn-on, these
are represented by oy and ox respectively in Fig. 1.8. As
stated before, if V gm , I gm and P gav are exceeded, the
thyristor can be destroyed. This shows that preferred
gate drive area for an SCR is bcdefghb as shown in
Fig. 1.8.
Vg 2
Vgm c d
Pavg oy, ox – Minimum gate voltage &
current to trigger an SCR
Vgm, Igm – Maximum permissible gate
voltage and current
e oa – Non-triggering gate voltage

y b h f

a g
O Ig

Fig. 1.8 Forward gate characteristics of thyristor

1.22 Power Electronics


In power electronic system SCR operates as a

switch because of its following advantages:
1. Noise less operation owing to obsence of moving
2. Very high switching speed.
3. High efficiency.
4. Low maintenance.
5. Greater reliability.
6. Small size and weight.
7. Long life as no wear and tear is involved.


Following are some of the applications of SCR:

1. Battery charger circuits.
2. Solid state controller for home appliances.
3. Uninterrupted power supplies.
4. Electric traction vehicles such as Tram cars,
Trolley buses, Sub ways, Electro locomotives etc.
5. HVDC transmission system.
6. Heating and welding applications.
7. Power control in chemical processess.
8. Transformer tap chargers.
9. Static circuit breakers.
10. Satellite and air craft power systems.
11. Industrial lasers.
12. Static VAR compensation.
Power Electronic Devices 1.23


The GTO is a three-terminal device with Anode,

Cathode and gate terminals. The various circuit symbols
are shown in Fig. 1.9(a). The two-way arrow convention
on the Gate lead distinguishes the GTO from the
conventional thyristor.



(i) (ii) (iii)

(a) Symbols of GTO (b) Two Transistor anology of GTO

Fig. 1.9
Fig 1.9(b) shows the two-transistor analogy of GTO.
The GTO switches regeneratively into on-state when a
positive gating signal is applied to the base of the N-P-N
transistor. In a conventional thyristor, the current gains
of N-P-N and P-N-P transistors are large in order to
maximize gate sensitivity at turn - ON and to minimize
on-state voltage drop. Due to this regenerative latching
effect the thyristor cannot be turned-off at the gate.
This internal regeneration is reduced in GTO by a
reduction in the current gain of the P-N-P transistor,
and turn-off is achieved by drawing suffient current from
the Gate.
The turn-off action may be explained as follows.
When a negative bias is applied at the gate, excess
1.24 Power Electronics

carriers are drawn from the base region of the N-P-N

transistor, and the collector current of the P-N-P
transistor is diverted into the external gate circuit. Thus,
the base drive of the N-P-N transistor is removed and
this in turn, removes the base drive of P-N-P transistor
and stop conduction.


The reduction in gain of the P-N-P transistor can

be achieved by the diffusion of gold or by the introduction
of Anode to N-base short circuiting spots shown in
Fig. 1.10.
The short circuited Anode emitter construction has
a lower on-state voltage, but the ability to block reverse
voltage is sacrificed. Large GTO’s also have an
interdegitated gate-Cathode structure in which the
Cathode emitter consists of many parallel connected
N-type fingers diffused into the p-type Gate region. This
configuration ensures a simultaneous turn - on or turn-
off of the whole active area of the chip.
Cathode Gate

N+ N+

P+ N+ P+ N+ P+


Fig. 1.10 Basic GTO structure showing anode to N-base short-circuting spots
Power Electronic Devices 1.25

For example, a 4000V, 3000A device may need -

750A current to turn it off because of low turn-off current

1.11.1 V-I Characteristics of GTO SCR

If Ig < 200 mA,
the GTO behaves as
a Transistor With IG Greater value

With IG = 0
−Va Va

Fig. 1.11 Static V-I Characteristics
Fig. 1.11 shows the V-I characteristics of GTO. It
is having large value of latching current about 2A as
compared to only 50-100 mA conventional thyristor of
the same power output. The available GTO rating is 25KV,

1.11.2 Advantages of GTO SCR

1. In GTO, the turn-OFF is achieved by applying a

negative gate pulse. Therefore there is no need of
commutation circuit.
2. More di/dt rating at turn-ON because of high
latching currents.
3. Fast switching speed.
1.26 Power Electronics

4. Due to the elimination of commutation circuit,

efficiency is high.
5. Lesser noise due to elimination of commutation

1.11.3 Disadvantages of GTO SCR

1. High Gate current need to turn on the GTO.

2. Higher values of latching and holding currents.
3. Higher Gate circuit losses.
4. Lower reverse voltage blocking capability.
5. Higher ON - State voltage drop.

1.11.4 Applications of GTO

1. Used in variable speed motor drives.

2. Used in electric traction.
3. Used in high power inverters.



1) It requires commu- 1) There is no need of

tation circuit for commutation circuit.

di di
2) Less rating. 2) More rating.
dt dt
3) Efficiency is low 3) Efficiency is more.
because of losses
in commutation circuit.
Power Electronic Devices 1.27


4) Noise due to presence 4) Less noise due to the
of commutation circuit. elimination of
commutation circuit.
5) Lesser values of 5) Higher values
IL and IH. compared to SCR.
6) SCR switching speed 6) Fast switching speed.
is low when compared
to GTO.
7) Less losses in gate 7) More losses in gate
circuit. circuit.
8) Ability to block the 8) Lesser reverse voltage
reverse voltage is blocking capability.

1.13 DIAC

A Diac is a two electrode, bidirectional avalanche

diode which can be switched from ‘OFF’ state to the
‘ON’ state for either polarity of applied voltage. The term
DIAC is obtained from capital letters, Diode that can
work on A.C.
The schematic construction, symbol and voltage
– current characteristics of the DIAC are shown in
Fig. 1.12.
The two leads are marked as T1 and T2 instead of
the conventional Anode–Cathode designations.
1.28 Power Electronics






(a) Schematic Diagram (b) Symbol

Conduction occurs in the diac when the breaker

voltage is reached in either polarity across the two
Conduction state for
positive half cycle

Blocking state
–V +V
Blocking state

Conduction state for

negative half cycle

(c) V-I charactristics

Fig. 1.12
When T1 is positive with respect to T2 then P-N-P-N
structure forward biased. If the voltage exceeds VBO
then the structure PNPN conducts. Similarly, when the
terminal T 2 is positive with respect to T 1 then the
structure PNPN forward biased and if this voltage
Power Electronic Devices 1.29

exceeds VBO the structure PNPN conducts. At voltages
less than breakover voltage, a very small amount of
current called leakage current flows through the device.
The device remains practically in non–conducting mode.
This portion of characteristics shown by region OA in
Fig. 1.12(c) is called as blocking state. At point ‘A’, when
the voltage level reaches the breakover voltage, the
device starts conducting. During its conduction, the
device exhibits negative resistance characteristics.
The current flowing in the device starts increasing
and the voltage across it starts decreasing. This portion
of characteristic shown by AB in Fig. 1.12(c) is known
as conduction state. The value of current corresponding
to the point A is known as the breakover current, similar
explanation holds good for negative half–cycle of
triggering. The characteristics in positive half cycle and
negative half cycle are same because the doping level is
same at two junctions of the device. Once the device
starts conducting, the current flowing through it is very
high which is to be limited by some external resistance.
The value of breakover voltage for a commonly
used diac is 30V and it is lie in between 30-50V.

1.13.1 Applications

i. Diac is mainly used as a trigger device for Triac.

ii. Light dimming
iii. Heat control and
iv. Speed control of A.C motors.
1.30 Power Electronics

1.14 TRIAC (Bidirectional Triode Thyristor)

An SCR is a unidirectional device as it can conduct

from Anode to Cathode only and not from Cathode to

Gate N2
N3 P2
N1 Ohmic contact
N4 P1
Metallic lead

Fig. 1.13 Constructional diagram

A triac can, however, conduct in both the

directions. A triac is thus a bidirectional thyristor with
three terminals. It is used extensively for the control of
power in ac circuits.
Triac is the word derived by the capital letters
from the words TRIode on AC.
Gate MT1


N3 N2


N4 P1


(a) Schematic Diagram (b) Symbol

Power Electronic Devices 1.31

Quadrant I
conduction (MT2 positive)
Ig2 Ig1 Ig0 Ig2 > Ig1 > Ig0

Blocking state
−Va Va
0 VBO1
Forward blocking state

Quadrant III
(MT2 negative)


(c) V - I Characteristic of TRIAC

Fig. 1.14
When in operation, a triac is equivalent to two
SCRs connected in antiparallel. The schematic diagram,
symbol and its characteristics are shown in Fig. 1.14(a),
(b) and (c) respectively. As the triac conducts in both
directions, the terms Anode and Cathode are not
applicable to triac. Its terminals are marked as MT1 (main
terminal 1) MT2 and Gate (G). The cross–sectional view
showing all the layers and junctions of triac are shown
in Fig. 1.13. The Gate (G) is near terminal MT1. The
cross –hatched strip shows that G is connected to N3 as
well as P 2. Similarly, MT 1 is connected to P2 and N 2,
terminal MT2 to P1 and N4.
With no gate signal to gate, the triac will block
both half cycles of the ac applied voltage incase peak
value of this voltage is less than breakover voltage of
VBO or VBO of the triac shown in Fig. 1.14(c). The
1 2
triac can be turned on in each half cycle of the applied
voltage by applying a positive or negative voltage to the
gate with respect to terminal MT 1 . Generally MT 1
1.32 Power Electronics

terminal is taken as reference terminal for both main

and gate circuits.
The turn – on process of triac can be explained by
using triggering modes.

1.14.1 Advantages of TRIAC

1. It can be triggered with positive and negative

polarity voltages.
2. Triac needs a single heat sink of large size.
3. It requires single fuse for protection.
4. In certain dc applications, SCR needs a diode in
parallel to protect it against reverse voltage. A triac
does not need a diode in parallel since safe
breakdown in either direction is possible.

1.14.2 Disadvangtages of TRIAC

1. The maximum ratings of triac are less compared

to SCR.
2. Triacs have low ratings compared to SCR.
3. Triac can be triggered with both polarities. Hence
a trigger circuit with careful consideration is
4. It has less reliability.

1.14.3 Applications of TRIAC

1. Phase control circuits.

2. Lamp dimming circuit.
Power Electronic Devices 1.33

3. Heat control.
4. Speed control of A.C motors.
5. As a static switch.

1.14.3 Comparison between SCR and TRIAC

1. It’s a unidirectional 1. It is a bidirectional
device. device.
2. High power handling 2. Low power ratings.
3. It is triggered by 3. It is triggered by either
narrow positive pulse positive or negative gate
applied to the gate. signal.
4. It has fast turn–off, 4. It has more turn–off
so it can be used to time. Hence it’s
switching frequencies applications are limited
upto KHZ. upto 400 HZ.


There are 4 triggering modes for triac, as follows :

1. MT2 is positive and gate current is also positive
(w.r.t MT1).
2. MT 2 is positive and gate current is negative
(w.r.t MT1).
3. MT 2 is negative and gate current is positive
(w.r.t MT1).
4. MT2 is negative and gate current is also negative
(w.r.t MT1).
1.34 Power Electronics

i. MT2 is positive and gate current is also positive:

When MT2 is positive with
Ig MT1 (- ve)
respect to MT1, junction P1N1,
P 2 N 2 are forward biased but
junction N1P2 is reverse biased. N2
When gate terminal is
positive with respect to MT1, the
gate current flows through P2N2 P1
junction like an ordinary SCR
shown in Fig. 1.15(a).
When gate current has MT2 (+ ve)
injected sufficient charge into
(a) Turn-on process of Triac
P2 layer, reverse biased junction
N1P2 breaks down just like an SCR. As a result the triac
starts conducting through P1N1P2N2 layers. This shows
that when MT 2 and gate terminals are positive with
respect to MT1, triac turns on like a conventional SCR.
Under this condition, triac operates in the first quadrant
of Fig. 1.14(c). The device is more sensitive in this mode.
ii. MT2 is positive but gate current is negative :
When Gate terminal is negative with respect to
MT 1, Gate current flows through P 2N 3 junction, Fig.
1.15(b) and reverse biased junction N1P2 is forward biased
as in a normal thyristor. As a result, triac starts
conducting through P1N1P2N3 layers initially. With the
conduction of P1N1P2N3, the voltage drop across this path
falls but potential of layer between P2 N3 rises towards
Anode potential of MT2. As the right hand portion of P2 is
Power Electronic Devices 1.35

clamped at the Ig Ig
Cathode pote- MT1 (- ve)
ntial of MT1, a N3 N2
Pilot of Ig
potential gra- P2 Final
dient exists N1 conduction
across layer P2, P1
its left hand
region being at
higher potential MT2 (+ ve)

than its right (b) Turn-on process of Triac

hand region. A
current shown dotted is thus established in layer P2
from left to right.
This current is similar to conventional gate current
of an SCR. As a result, the right–hand part of triac
consisting of main structure P1N1P2N2 begins to conduct.
The device structure P1N1P2N3 may be regarded as pilot
SCR and the structure P 1N1P2N 2 as the main SCR. It
can be stated that Anode current of pilot SCR serves as
the Gate current for the main SCR. Therefore, the device
with MT 2 positive and Gate current negative is less
sensitive and therefore, more Gate current is required.
iii. MT2 is negative but Gate current is positive :
The Gate current Ig forward biases P2N2 junction,
Fig. 1.15(c). When MT2 is negative with respect to MT1,
junction P2 N1, P1 N4 forward biased and junction N1 P1
is reverse biased. When Ig flows through P2 N2 junction,
layer N 2 injects electrons into P 2 layers as shown by
1.36 Power Electronics

dotted arrows. As a Ig MT1 (+ve)

result, reverse biased G

junction N1 P1 breaks
down as in a Final P2 Ig
conventional thyri- (P2N1P1N4) N1

stor. Eventually the P1

structure P2N1P1N4 is N4
completely turned on.
As the triac is turned
on by remote gate N2, MT2 (–ve)
the device is (c) Turn-on process of Traic
less sensitive in the
third quadrant with positive Gate current.
iv. Both MT2 and gate current are negative :

Ig MT1 (+ve)

P2 Ig


MT2 (–ve)

(d) Turn-on process of Triac

Fig. 1.15

In this mode N3 acts as a remote gate, Fig. 1.15(d).

The gate current Ig flows from P2 to N3 as in a normal
thyristor. Reverse–biased junction N1P1 is broken and
Power Electronic Devices 1.37

finally, the structure P2N1P1N4 is turned on completely.

Though the triac is turned on by remote gate N3 in third
quadrant, the device is more sensitive under this
condition compared with turn–on action with positive
gate current.
It can, therefore, be concluded from above that :
1. The characteristics of TRIAC in the I and III
quadrants are identical to those of SCR in I
2. Sensitivity of the triac is greatest in the first
quadrant when turned on with positive gate current
and also in the third quadrant when turned on
with negative gate current.
3. Sensitivity of the triac is low in the first quadrant
when turned on with negative gate current and
also in the third quadrant when turned – on with
positive gate current.
The available ratings of TRIAC is 1200V, 300A.


R3 Load

R4 R2 A
Full wave B2
rectified i/p E
Z B1

Fig. 1.16 SCR triggering circuit using UJT

1.38 Power Electronics

Fig. 1.16 shows the SCR triggering circuit using

The circuit consists of UJT relaxation oscillator
and thyristor etc.
0 π 2π 3π 4π t

0 π t
2π 3π 4π
Voltage VC
0 π 2π 3π 4π t


0 α π π+α 2π 2π+α 3π 3π+α 4π t

0 α π π+α 2π t

Voltage VJ
0 π t
2π 3π 4π
Fig. 1.17 Voltage wave froms
The connections of R4, C, UJT and R1, R2 represents
the UJT relaxation oscillator.
Full wave rectified a.c is employed as a power
source to the SCR instead of using direct ac supply.
Therefore, it increases the load current capability by
two times and also it eliminates the negative half cycle.
Power Electronic Devices 1.39

If the current through the SCR reduces below the holding

current the SCR automatically turned–off at that point.
The resistance R 3 is called as current minimizing
resistance, since it reduces the current flowing the
circuit to a safe value. The zener diode Z1 clips the top
of the positive alternations and provides stable voltage
level to which capacitor C can charge through R4. R4 is
a variable resistance used to control the charging time
of the capacitor by varying the current flowing through
it. When the voltage across the capacitor reaches its
maximum value then the Emitter – Base 1 junction of
UJT forward biases and the capacitor discharges through
the E-B 1 junction and resistance R 1 . The pulses
developed across R 1, in the base 1 of UJT are used to
trigger the SCR.
The Frequency of saw tooth voltage developed
across ‘C’ is determined by the values of R4 and C. By
varying the values of R4, C, the timing of trigger pulses
developed across R1.
In this circuit a pure dc cannot be used for charging
the capacitor, because the frequency of the output pulses
of UJT will not synchronize to the frequency of pulsating
dc applied to the SCR.
Whenever the pulse produced across R 1 that is
given to the gate circuit of the SCR, then the SCR comes
into conduction state. Therefore it acts as closed switch
and the total voltage applied across the load. The voltage
across the load and thyristor are as shown in Fig. 1.17.
1.40 Power Electronics

In this way the full wave rectified power is supplied

to both SCR and synchronization to the trigger circuits.


1.17.1 Triac firing circuit using DIAC

Fig. 1.18 shows a triac firing circuit using a diac.

In this circuit, Resistor R is variable and R1 has constant
resistance. When R is zero, R 1 protects the diac and
triac gate from getting exposed to almost full supply
voltage. Resistor R2 limits the current in the diac and
triac gate when diac turns on.

R1 MT2

T1 T 2 R2
Vm sin ωt

Fig. 1.18 Firing circuit for a traic using diac

The values of R and C are so selected as to give a

firing angle range of nearly 0° to 180°, practically a
control of 10° to 170° is only possible by the firing circuit.
Variable resistor R controls the charging time of
capacitor (C) and therefore the firing angle of the triac.
When R is small, the charging time constant is
small. Therefore the capacitor charging time is less and
Power Electronic Devices 1.41

the firing angle for triac is small. If the R is large (ligh),

firing angel of triac is large.
When the capacitor C with upper plate positive,
charges to break down voltage of diac, diac turns on. As
a result, capacitor discharges rapidly there by applying
capacitor voltage v c across the triac gate to turn
it on. After triac turn–on at firing angle α, source
voltage vS appears across the load during positive half
cycle for (π – α).
When vS becomes zero at ωt = π, triac turns off.

V Vm sin ωt

0 π 2π 3π 4π ωt


0 π 3π ωt

α α α α

π+α 2π 3π+α 4π
α π 2π+α 3π ωt

π+α 2π 3π+α 4π
0 α π ωt
2π+α 3π

Fig. 1.19 Wave forms for traic firing circuit using diac for low values of R
1.42 Power Electronics

After ωt = π, vS becomes negative, the capacitor

now charges with lower plate positive. When vc reaches
the break down voltage of diac, then diac and triac turn
on and vS appears across the load during negative half
cycle for (π – α), i.e, from π + α to 2π. At ωt = 2π, triac
turns off again and the above process repeats.
The wave forms for vS, vC, vT and vo are shown in
Fig. 1.19 for low values of R. Here vS is the source voltage,
vC is the voltage across the capacitor, vT is the voltage
across the triac and vo is the output or load voltage.
After triac turn–on capacitor holds to small

1.17.2 Control circuit of SCR

The circuit in Fig. 1.20 shows a simple method for

varying the trigger angle and therefore, the power in
the load. Instead of using a gate pulse to trigger the
SCR, the gate current is supplied by an a.c source of
voltage VS through Rmin, R and the series diode D.

+ VL − Rmin


VS Vm sin ωt VT

Fig. 1.20 SCR firing circuit

Power Electronic Devices 1.43

Vm sin ωt

0 π 2π 3π 4π ωt


2π 4π
0 π ωt
α 3π


2π 3π 4π
0 α π ωt

Fig. 1.21 Wave forms

The circuit operation as follows :
1. As V S goes positive, the SCR becomes forward–
biased from Anode to Cathode; however, it will not
conduct until its gate current exceeds Ig(min).
2. The positive VS also forward biases the diode and
the SCRs gate Cathode junction, this causes flow
of a gate current Ig.
3. The gate current will increase as V S increases
towards its peak value. When i g reaches a valve
equal to I g(min) , the SCR turns ‘on’ and V L will
approximately equal to VS. (refer to point α in Fig.
1.21 called firing angle).
1.44 Power Electronics

4. The SCR remains ‘on’ and VL = VS until VS decreases

to point where the load current is below the SCR
holding current. This usually occurs very close to
the point until VS= 0 and begins to go negative.
5. The SCR now turns ‘off’ and remains off while VS
goes negative since its Anode–Cathode is reverse
biased. Now the SCR acts as open switch and the
load voltage VL = 0.
6. The purpose of diode in this circuit is to prevent
the gate–Cathode reverse bias from exceeding peak
reverse gate voltage during negative half cycle of
V S. The diode is chosen to have peak reverse
– voltage rating greater than the input voltage Vmax.
7. The same operation is repeated when VS again goes
The load voltage wave from in Fig. 1.21 can be
controlled by varying R which varies the resistance in
the gate circuit. If R is increased, the gate current will
reach its trigger value i g(min) at greater values of V S
making the SCR trigger at large values of α in the +ve
half cycle. If R is decreased and α decreases. The
minimum firing angle is obtained with R equal to zero.


1.18.1 PUT (Programmable Uni junction Transistor)

It is a PNPN device like an SCR. But the major

difference is connected to n-type material near Anode
as shown in Fig. 1.22 (a) & (b).
Power Electronic Devices 1.45


P Ia
J1 G
J2 Va
J3 −Va +Va


(a) Schematic diagram (b) Circuit diagram (c) V-I characteristics

Fig. 1.22
PUT is used mainly in time–delay Logic and SCR
trigger circuits. Its largest rating is about 200V and
1A.Circuit symbol and V-I characteristics of a PUT are
shown in Fig. 1.22 (b) and (c) respectively.
In a PUT, G is always biased positive with respect
to Cathode. When Anode voltage exceeds the gate voltage
by about 0.7V, junction J1 gets forward biased and PUT
turns on. When Anode voltage becomes less than gate
voltage, PUT turned off.

1.18.2 Silicon Unilateral Switch (SUS)

A A (Anode)
G (Gate)

diode N

K K (Cathode)
(a) Schematic diagram (b) Equivalent circuit
1.46 Power Electronics


−Va 0 VS +Va

K −Ia
(c) Symbol (d) V-I characteristics
Fig. 1.23
A silicon unilateral switch (SUS) is similar to a
PUT, except for the fact that it has an internally built
low–voltage avalanche diode between the Gate and the
Cathode. The symbol for SUS and its equivalent circuit,
schematic diagram are shown in Fig. 1.23(a), (b) & (c).
The anode to cathode electrical (V-I) characteristics are
shown in Fig. 1.23(d) for no external gate connection to
the device. Because of the presence of avalanche diode,
SUS turns on for a fixed Anode to gate voltage. The SUS
usually used in the basic relaxation oscillator circuit,
timing, logic and trigger circuits.
Its rating are about 20V and 0.5A.

1.18.3 SBS (Silicon bilateral switch)

The silicon bilateral switch (SBS) is a device which

comprises two identical SUS structures arranged in anti-
parallel, as shown in Fig. 1.24. As the name indicates,
Power Electronic Devices 1.47

the device conducts in both directions when the applied

voltage breaks the internal avalanche diode. The gate
terminal is used only for external synchronization or
for proper biasing.


G −V −IS VS +V

T2 T2 −I
(a) Equivalent circuit (b) Symbol (c) V-I characteristics

Fig. 1.24
Since the device operates as a switch with both
polarities of applied voltage, it is particularly useful for
triggering the triac with alternate positive and negative
gate pulses, digital circuits and pulse generators etc.

1.18.4 SCS (Silicon Controlled Switch)

SCS is a tetrode, i.e. four electrode thyristor. It

has two gates, one Anode gate (G A ) like a PUT and
another Cathode gate (GK) like an SCR. In other words,
SCS is a four layer, four terminal pnpn device, with
Anode (A), Cathode (K), Anode gate (G A) and Cathode
gate (GK) shown in Fig. 1.25(a) & (b).
The SCS can be turned on by either gate. Schematic
diagram, symbol and V-I characteristic of an SCS are
shown in Fig. 1.25 (a), (b) & (c) respectively.
1.48 Power Electronics

J1 GA pulse
pulse P
N pulse
pulse K K
(a) Schematic diagram (b) Symbol


−Va 0 +Va

(c) V-I characteristics

Fig. 1.25
The SCS can be triggered ‘on’ by either a positive
pulse at GK or a negative pulse at GA. In the on–state,
the SCS behaves like an SCR, namely, as a low
resistance with a voltage drop of typically 1V.
The SCS can be turned off in any one of three ways :
1. By reducing its anode current below IH (same as
2. By applying a negative pulse at GK.
3. By applying a positive pulse at GA.
Power Electronic Devices 1.49

Its ratings are about 100 V and 200MA. This can

be operated like an OR Gate. It is extremely versatile
since it can be turned ‘on’ and ‘off’ by signals of either
Its applications are :
1. In low power sensing circuit.
2. Timing and counting and digital logic circuits.
3. Pulse generators.
4. Oscillators etc.

1.18.5 Comparison between SUS, SBS and SCS


1 It is a three It is a three It is a four
terminal terminal terminal
device. device. device.
2 It is a uni- It is a bi- It is a uni-
directional directional directional
switch. switch. switch.
3 High switching High switching Low Switching
Stability. Stability. Stability.
4. Its cost is low. Its cost is low. Its cost is high
5. It hs +ve turn It has +ve turn It has +ve turn
on characterstic. on characterstic. OFF & turn on
6. Used in Used in Used in
i) High speed i) High speed i) Low power
switching switching digital
circuits. circuits. circuits.
ii) Digital ii) Digital ii) Timing and
circuits. circuits. counting
iii) Pulse iii) Oscillator
generators. circuits.
1.50 Power Electronics


7. Symbol :
A T1 A


K T2 K

1.18.6 Light – Activated silicon controlled rectifier


The circuit symbol and V-I characteristics of light–

activated SCRs is shown in Fig. 1.26. The device is
turned on by direct radiation of light on the silicon wafer.
The pulse of appropriate wave length is guided by optical
fibres to the special sensitive area of the wafer. If the
intensity of light exceeds a certain value, excess
electron–hole pairs are generated due to radiation and
forward–biased thyristor gets turned on.


−Va 0 VBO +Va

G Blocking state

K −Ia

(a) Circuit symbol (b) V-I characteristics

Fig. 1.26 LASCR
Power Electronic Devices 1.51

The gate structure is designed to provide sufficient

gate sensitivity for triggering from practical light sources

(Ex : LED and to accomplish high di and capability).
dt dt
Once the LASCR is triggered to the on state, it behaves
like a normal SCR. The LASCR will stay in ‘on’ state
even if the light disappears. It will turn ‘off’ only if its
Anode current is decreased below I H.
The LASCR is most sensitive to light when its gate is
open. The sensitivity can be varied by connecting a
variable resistor between gate and cathode. In this way,
the level of light at which the LASCR will trigger can be

The turn – on of a thyristor by optical means is an

especially attractive approach for the device that are to
be used in extremely high voltage circuits. LASCRs offer
complete electrical isolation between the light –
triggering source and the high voltage anode – cathode
circuit, which floats at a potential of as high as few
hundred kilo volts.

The rating of LASCR could be as high as 4kV

at 1500 A with light triggering power of less than
100mW. The typical di/dt is 250 A/ms and dv/dt could
be as high as 200V/μs.
1.52 Power Electronics

1.18.7 Comparison between SCR and LASCR


1) This is not activated 1) It is a light activated

by lihgt. silicon controlled

2) It hs 4 layers. 2) It is also have four


3) It is a 3 terminal 3) It is a 3 terminal device.


4) It turns ON when 4) It turns ‘ON’ when light

trigger pulses are falls on it and when the
given to gate terminal applied voltage is
and when the applied beyond VBO.
voltage beyond VBO.

5) di/dt ratings are more. 5) di/dt ratings are less

compared SCR.

6) Smbol : 6) Smbol :



Power Electronic Devices 1.53


The thyristor design involves various device

parameters, such as forward and reverse voltage blocking
capability, turn–on and turn–off times and on–state
voltage drop. The conventional thyristor may have a
reverse blocking capability of thousands of volts, but this
capability is not required for every application. In
particular voltage–fed inverter circuit, which converts
d.c power to a.c, usually has rectifier diode connected
in anti parallel across each thyristor to conduct reactive
load currents and excess commutating currents. In such
circuits the anti parallel diode clamps the thyristor
reverse voltage to 1 or 2 V under steady circuit
If a high reverse voltage rating is unnecessary,
the remaining thyristor characteristics can be optimized.
One of the main characteristics of an asymmetrical SCR
(ASCR) is that they do not block significant reverse
voltage. Therefore an ASCR is specially designed for
applications where reverse blocking capability is
unimportant. Typically, the reverse voltage ratings is
about 20-30 V and the forward voltage rating is of the
range 400-2000 V. The switching times and on state
voltage drop of an ASCR are smaller than those of a
conventional thyristor of same rating. The ASCR of
operated at switching frequencies of 20 kHZ.
Construction :
The conventional centre gate thyristor shown in
Fig. 1.27 has a thick, lightly doped N-base region. Base
1.54 Power Electronics

thickness must be large enough to prevent the spreading

of the depletion region during forward blocking into Anode
P region. When this spreading occurs due to the
application of excessive forward voltage, a punch through
conditions occurs and the thyristor immediately turns
on. But the on-state voltage drop is also proportional to
N-base thickness.

Gate Cathode Gate Cathode

N+ N+ N+ N+
P+ P+

– 0.014 inch N 0.01 inch
P+ P+

Cathode Cathode
Fig. 1.27 Conventional SCR Fig. 1.28 Asymmetric SCR (ASCR)
A narrow N-base is possible if a highly doped N
layer introduced adjacent to the P emitter as shown in
Fig. 1.28. The new N layer acts as a buffer, preventing
the depletion region from extending into the P + layer
and allowing a higher average electric field in the lightly
doped N-region. Consequently, a thinner N-base is
obtained for the same forward blocking capability.
+ +
In the reverse blocking mode, the N P junction
quickly avalanches at less than 50V.
The V-I characteristics of ASCR is shown in
Fig. 1.29.
Power Electronic Devices 1.55


A With IG
IG = 0
−Va 0 VBO +Va

(a) Symbol (b) V-I characteristics
Fig. 1.29
Advantages of ASCR over conventional SCR :
1. Smaller size and weight.
2. Less cost of commutating circuit.
3. Operation at switching frequencies of 20 kHZ.
4. High efficiency due to low ON state voltage drop.


The reverse conducting thyristor is simply an

asymmetrical thyristor with a monolithically integrated,
anti parallel diode in a single silicon chip, as shown in
Fig. 1.30.


Fig. 1.30 Reverse conduting Thyristor
1.56 Power Electronics

The thyristor is turned off by passing a current

pulse through the diode part of the chip. By combining
the ASCR and the diode in one device, a more compact
circuit layout is obtained and heat sinking is simplified.
Stray loop inductance between the ASCR and the diode
is also minimized.

Isolation of thyristor and diode is important to

ensure that charge carriers present in the diode during
commutation donot diffuse into thyristor part of the chip
to cause retriggering when forward voltage is reapplied.
The forward blocking voltage varies from 400 to 2000 V
and the current rating goes upto 500A. The reverse
blocking voltage is typically 30 to 40 V.

A disadvantage of the RCT is that it is inflexible

compared with two discrete devices because the current
ratio between thyristor and diode parts of the chip is
fixed for a given design.

If the diode carries a commutation current pulse

only, the greater part of the chip can be devoted to the
thyristor to maximize its current capability.


The equivalent circuit of MCT is shown in

Fig. 1.31(a).
Power Electronic Devices 1.57


G pnp
OFF npn On-FET
ON (p-chanel)

C Cathode
(a) Equivalent circuit (b) Circuit symbol
Fig. 1.31 MCT
MOS- Controlled thyristor is a combination of four
layer thyristor and MOS- gate structure. The four layer
structure is represented by two transistor analogy. MCT
consists of one on-FET, one off-FET and two transistor.
The on–FET is a P-channel MOSFET and off–FET is an
n–channel MOSFET. An arrow towards gate terminal
indicates n–channel MOSFET and otherwise P–channel
MOSFET. The two transistors in the equivalent circuit
indicate that there is a regenerative feed back. Fig
1.31(b) gives the circuit symbol.
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 pulses.
Turn – on process :
MCT is turned on by applying a negative voltage
pulse at the gate with respect to Anode with the
application of this negative voltage pulse, on–FET gets
turned–on and off–FET 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
1.58 Power Electronics

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, re-generative action of the
connection takes place and the thyristor or MCT is turned
Note that on–FET and pnp transistor are in parallel
when thyristor is in conduction state, 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 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 begin 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, begins to
decay. This regenerative action eventually turns off the
An MCT has the following merits :
1. Low forward connection drop.
Power Electronic Devices 1.59

2. Fast turn–on and turn–off times.

3. Low switching losses.
4. High gate input impedance, which allows simpler
design of drive circuits.


A Bi-polar–junction transistor (BJT) is a minority

carrier device. It has three terminals, namely emitter
(E), collector (C) and base (B), BJTs have low power rating.
However, to handle large powers npn transistors are
normally used in common – emitter (CE) configuration,
due to higher mobility of electron than holes. Fig. 1.32
shows the structure of power BJT with doping densities
and thickness of each layer. It consists of 3 terminals
+ – +
(Base, emitter, collector), 4 layers (n , p, n and n )
oriented in vertical direction. This structure provides
maximum current flow and reduces the losses and
resistance of the device.
Base Emitter

10 μm 19
n+ 10 cm

Base 5-20 μm p 1016 cm-3


50-200 μm n- 1014 cm-3

250 μm n+ 1019 cm-3


Fig. 1.32 Power BJT

1.60 Power Electronics

The n layer is called collector drift region and its
thickness is dependent on the breakdown voltage of the
transistor. For high amplification purpose, the base
thickness of the BJT should be small. If it is too small
causes the breakdown voltage of the BJT decreases.
There the thickness of the base is so designed based
upon these two values. In general, the base thickness
in a power BJT is very high as compared to low power

⎛ I ⎞
BJT, which causes high current gain ⎜⎜ β = C ⎟⎟ .
⎝ IB ⎠

Saturation Secondary
IC Quasi breakdown

IB5 Primary
IB4 breakdown
IB1 Active Region

IB = 0

Fig. 1.33 Characteristics of NPN power BJT

The output characteristics of power BJT are drawn

between collector current ( IC ) and collector to emitter
voltage (VCE ) for different base currents (IB) and is shown
in Fig. 1.30.
For substantial values of collector current there
is a maximum value of collector–emitter voltage which
Power Electronic Devices 1.61

the device can sustain. This is denoted by BVSUS. If base

current is zero, this maximum voltage which can be
sustained by the device increases to BVCEO.
The primary breakdown is due to avalanche
breakdown of C-B junction. In this region the current
and power dissipation can be very high. Therefore, this
region should be avoided.
In the region marked secondary breakdown the
C-E voltage decreases substantially and the collector
current is high. This region due to thermal run away. A
cumulative process occurs in this region and the device
gets destroyed.
A quasi saturation region between saturation and
active region is due to the presence of lightly doped

drift collector region (n layer).



Bi-polar junction transistor (BJT) have low power

loss but have long switching time. The MOSFET’s have
very fast switching characteristics (Low turn on and turn
OFF times) but have high power losses. The disadvantages
of BJT and MOSFET can overcome by using IGBT
(Insulated Gate Bi-polar Transistor). Hence, the IGBT’s
has low switching times as well as low power losses.
IGBT is also know as metal–oxide insulated gate
transistor (MOSIGT).
1.62 Power Electronics

Structure and working of IGBT :

− +

Emitter Gate E Emitter

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

n+ n+ n+ n+

Load J3
p p
− J2 J2
VCC n− n−
+ J1 J1
p+ substrate p+

C Collector

Fig. 1.34 Basic structure of an IGBT

Fig. 1.34 shows the basic structure of an IGBT. It

is constructed virtually in the same manner as a power
MOSFET. But the major difference is in the substrate.
The n layer substrate at the drain in a power MOSFET
is now substituted in the IGBT by a p layer substrate
called collector. Like a power MOSFET an IGBT has also
thousands of basic structure cells connected on a single
chip of silicon.

When gate is positive with respect to emitter and

with gate–emitter voltage more than the threshold
voltage of IGBT, an n–channel is formed in the regions
as in a power MOSFET, Fig 1.34. This n–channel short
Power Electronic Devices 1.63

– +
circuits the n region with n emitter regions. An
electron movement in the n–channel, in turn causes
substantial hole injection from p substrate layer into

the epitaxial n layer. Therefore a forward current is
established, shown in Fig. 1.34.
+ –
The three layers p , n and p constitute a pnp
+ –
transistor with p as emitter, n as base and p as
– +
collector. Also n , p and n layers constitute npn

transistor as shown in fig 1.35(a). Here n serves as
base for pnp transistor also as collector for npn
transistor. Further p serves as collector for pnp device
and also base for npn transistor. The two pnp and npn
transistors can, therefore, be connected as shown in
Fig. 1.35(b) to give the equivalent circuit of an IGBT.
Fig. 1.35(c) shows the symbol for IGBT with gate (G),
emitter (E) and collector (c) terminals.


n+ n+ n+ n+

pnp n−
p+ substrate

(a) Basic structure

1.64 Power Electronics


Resistance G
G Offered by

(b) Equivalent (c) Symbol structure

Fig. 1.35
IGBT characteristics :
The circuit of Fig. 1.36(a) shows the various
parameters to find out IGBT characteristics.
IC VGE5 > >VGE4 >VGE3 >VGE2 > VGE1
IC (A)
C +
+ VGE2
_ _ 0 VGET

(a) Circuit diagram (b) Static :V-I characteristics (c) Transfer

Fig. 1.36
Static V-I or output characteristics of an IGBT
(n-channel type) show the plot of collector current (IC)
versus collector-emitter voltage VCE for various values of
gate–emitter voltages. The characteristics are shown
in Fig. 1.36(b). In the forward direction, the shape of
the output characteristics is similar to that of BJT. Here
Power Electronic Devices 1.65

the controlling parameter is gate–emitter voltage V GE

because IGBT is a voltage–controlled device.
The transfer characteristics of an IGBT is a plot of
collector current IC and gate–emitter voltage V GE as
shown in Fig. 1.36(c). When VGE is less than the threshold
voltage VGET, IGBT is in the off–state.


Many power devices are very sensitive to over

voltage. Digital IC is one such equipment, which may be
damaged even at slight over voltages. Hence, these
devices must be provide protection against over voltages.
There are several circuits to protect power devices,
they are :
1. Over voltage protection using thyristor.
2. Crow bar arrangement.
Over voltage protection using thyristor
Fig. 1.36 shows the circuit for over voltage
protection using thyristor.


R2 Z

T1 T2
A.C mains
K G A D3

Fig. 1.36 Over voltage protection circuit using Thyristor

1.66 Power Electronics

The circuit consists of two thyristor T1, T 2 and

four diodes (D1, D2, D3, D4), resistances R1 & R2, zener
diode (Z) and source impedance (ZS).
Under normal conditions the a.c supply is
connected to the load and the thyristors T1 and T2 will
not conduct.
Whenever an over voltage occurs, then the zener
diode will breakdown. During the positive half cycle T1
will be forward blocking state and the T2 is in negative
half cycle. Due to the breakdown of the zener diode,
during the positive half cycle, the gate circuit of thyristor
T1 is energised through R1 – D1 – Z – R2 – D3 and this
inturns turn on the thyristor T1. During this condition a
heavy current will flow through Z S – R1 – T1 because
during on state of a thyristor, it acts as a closed switch.
Therefore a large voltage drop occurs in source
impedance ( ZS ). Thus the voltage across the load will
remain in the limits.
Similarly during the negative half cycle, the gate
circuit of thyristor T2 is energised through D2 – Z – R2 –
D4 – R1, hence it will be turn–on and causes the same
effect as in the case of positive half cycle.
As soon as the voltage at the AC mains comes to
safe value, the zener diode recover its blocking capability
and the current in the gate circuits of thyristor will be
zero, there by the thyristors will not turn–on.
The resistances R 1 and R 2 are so selected such
that R 1 reduces or controls the currents through the
thyristors and gate circuit and R2 minimises the current
through gate circuit to a safe value.
Power Electronic Devices 1.67

In this way this circuit protects the power devices

from over voltages in both cycles.
Crow bar circuit
Fig. 1.37 shows the crow bar arrangement for
protecting the devices against over voltages. It consists
of a crowbar thyristor, which is connected in parallel
with the load. During normal working conditions the
zener diode will be in blocking state and therefore the
thyristor is in off condition. Therefore the input is
connected to the load.
As the input voltage goes too high, then the zener
diode breaks down and a current flows through zener
diode and resistance (R). Then the voltage across R is
applied between gate and Cathode circuit, there by it
causes the crow bar thyristor to ON condition. As the
thyristor is turned on, the voltage across the load
decreases to a very low value in the order of 1-2 volts,
because the thyristor is connected in parallel with the
When the voltage comes to a permissable limit,
then the zener diode regains its blocking capacity, there
by no current flowing through the resistance (R). So,
the thyristor comes to off condition.

D.C Th
mains Load


Fig. 1.37 Crow bar protection circuit

1.68 Power Electronics

This type of circuits are used to protect digital

ICs etc.
Static Circuit Breakers :
For small power circuits, a small on & off switch is
sufficient for its control. These switches are insufficient
to control the power in high power circuit. Therefore,
static circuit breakers are used to connect or disconnect
the load the supply with out causing any severe arcing.
These circuit breakers are classified into two types,
namely, D.C circuit breakers and A.C circuit breakers.
D.C Circuit Breaker :
The Fig. 1.38 shows a D.C circuit breaker circuit
using thyristor. Thyristor (T) is main thyristor that
supplies the load and Ta is the auxiliary thyristor used
for the commutation of thyristor T, because this is a
D.C circuit.

+ R
D.C supply

− Ta

Fig. 1.38 D.C. circuit breaker

Whenever there is a requirement or necessity to
turn the load to the mains dc supply, a gate signal is
given to the thyristor (T). Then the thyristor comes in
Power Electronic Devices 1.69

to conduction causes the load is switched on to the

supply. The capacitor in the circuit is charged to the
supply voltage through resistance (R) and thyristor (T)
and the thyristor Ta is in off–condition.

When It is required to switch off the load, auxiliary

thyristor (Ta) is turned on by applying a gate pulse to it.
Therefore it acts as a closed path for the capacitor to
discharge through Ta and T. The voltage across capacitor
is applied to thyristor T through Ta. Since this is reverse
voltage to the thyristor, the current discharges from
the capacitor is in oppositie direction to the load current
flowing through the thyristor. When the discharging
current equal to the load current, the current through
the thyristor is decreases below the holding current
therefore the thyristor will be turned off. Then the
capacitor C will get charged to opposite polarity through
load and Ta.

When the capacitor C is fully charged, then the

thyristor Ta will be turned because the current through
it will become negligible (∵ the current through
resistance is small.)

A.C Circuit breaker :

Fig. 1.39 shows an ac circuit breaker using two

thyristors. Since the supply is ac, no special forced
commutation method is required and the natural
commutation is possible.
1.70 Power Electronics


A R1 K
A.C supply R3
T1 T2

K R2 A

Fig. 1.39 A.C circuit breaker

Thyristor T1 conducts for positive half cycle and T2

for negative half cycle. Switch ‘S’ is used for closing the
gate circuit. Since the gate current is very small, a
normal switch is used. The thyristor T1 receives its gate
pulse through R1, D1 and R3 while the T2 receives gate
pulse through R2, D2 and R3. The resistance R1, R2 and
R3 are used to limit the gate current flowing through
the circuit to a safe value.
During positive half cycle of the supply, the
thyristor T1 gets forward biased and is triggered by the
gate pulse when the switch is in closed position. As the
supply voltage reverses, the thyristor T2 is forward biased
and T 1 gets reverse biased. The same operation is
repeated for other next cycles.
Whenever we want turn off the circuit the switch
‘S’ is opened. During this time there is no gate current
flowing through the circuit, the thyristors T1 and T2 are
‘OFF’ position.
Power Electronic Devices 1.71

In this circuit, the supply is A.C, at the end of

each half cycle the thyristor comes in to off condition
In this way the circuit or load can be controlled
i.e., turned–on and off by using a very small rating
switch (S).


The process of turn–off of a thyristor is called

commutation. The power Electronic devices are used to
control the power as per the load requirements. For
this purpose the devices are to be turned–on and turn
–off at a required instant of time. For this purpose a
firing circuit is used to turn–on the SCR and a circuit is
used to turn–off the SCR, which is called as
‘commutation circuit.’
Conditions for Commutation of thyristor :
The following conditions should be satisfied to
turn–off a thyristor :
1. The Anode current through the thyristor must be
reduced to zero or less than the holding current.
2. A reverse voltage should be applied across the
thyristor for sufficient time to enable it to regian
its blocking state.


Based on the arrangement and operating principles

the commutation methods are classified as follows:
1.72 Power Electronics

1. Class–A commutation : (LOAD COMMUTATION)

2. Class–B commutation : (Resonant pulse


3. Class–C commutation : (Complementary


4. Class–D commutation : (Impulse or Auxiliary


5. Class–E commutation : (External pulse


6. Class–F commutation : (Line or Natural


1.26.1 Class A Commutation (Load Commutation)

For obtaining load commutation of a thyristor, the

commutating components L and C are connected as
shown in Fig. 1.40. Here R is the load resistance. For
low values of R, L and C are connected in series with R
shown in Fig. 1.40 (a). For high values of R, load R is
connected across ‘C’, Fig. 1.40 (b). The essential
requirement for both the circuits is that the overall
circuit must be under damped.
When these circuits are energized from D.C,
current wave forms are shown in Fig. It is seen that the
current i first rises to maximum value and then begins
to fall. When current decays to zero and tends to reverse.
Power Electronic Devices 1.73

G i

A K i

D.C supply C

R Load 0 A

(a) For low values of load resistance

G i


D.C supply
C R Load t
0 A

(b) For high values of load resistance

Fig. 1.40 Class ‘A’ commutation or load commutation

Load or class – A commutation is used for D.C
supply source. The nature of the circuit should be such
that when energised from a D.C source, current must
have a natural tendency to decay to zero for load
commutation to occur in a thyristor circuit (like in A.C
Class ‘A’ or load commutation is also called
resonant commutation or self commutation.

1.26.2 Class B commutation (Resonant – pulse commu


Fig. 1.41(a) shows the circuit diagram for class–B

or resonant pulse commutation. In this circuit source
voltage VS charges capacitor (c) to voltage VS with left
1.74 Power Electronics

hand plate positive as shown. In Initial conditions T1 as

well as auxiliary thyristor TA are off.
iT1 i0=I0

+ −
VS ic v0 Load


− −

(a) Circuit diagram


0 t
0 t
0 t
0 t
ic ω0 t = π

ic I0
0 t
tc for T1

vs Vs


T1 t1 t2 t3 t4 t5

(b) Wave forms

Fig. 1.41 Resonant-pulse commutation
Power Electronic Devices 1.75

Positive direction of capacitor voltage (v c) and

capacitor current (ic) are marked.
When T1 is turned on at t = 0, a constant current
I0 is established in the load circuit. Here, for simplicity,
load current is assumed constant.
Uptill time t1, vc = V s, ic = 0, i0 = I0 and i T = I0 1

shown in Fig. 1.41(b). For initiating the commutation of

main thyristor T1, the auxiliary thyristor is turned on at
t = t1. With TA on, a resonant current i C begins to flow
from C through TA, L and return to C. This current is in
the form of sinusoidal shape with an amplitude of IP and
the current direction is in opposite direction to the
direction marked. Therefore this current is taken as
After a half cycle of i c from instant t 1; i c = 0,
vc = – Vs and i T = I0 . After π radians from instant t1,

i.e, just after just instant t2, as ic tends to reverse, TA is

turned–off at t2. With vc = –Vs right hand plate has positive
polarity. Resonant current ic now builds up through C,
L, D and T1 because the diode is forward biased due to
the voltage across the capacitor.
As this current ic grows opposite to forward thyristor
current of T , net forward current i T = I0 − ic begins
1 1
to decrease. Finally, when ic in the reverse direction
attains the value I 0, forward current in
T1 i T = I0 − I0 = 0
) is reduced to zero and the thyristor
T1 is turned off at t3.
For reliable operation, peak resonant current I P
must be greater than load current I 0. As thyristor is
1.76 Power Electronics

commutated by the gradual build up of resonant current

in the reverse direction, this method of commutation is
called current commutation, class-B or resonant pulse
After T1 is turned off at t3, constant current I0 flows
from VS to load through C, L and D. Capacitor begins
charging linearly from –Vab to zero at t4 and then to VS
at t5. As a result, at instant t5, when vc = Vs, load current
i0 = ic = I0 reduces to zero.

1.26.3 Class C commutation (Complementary commuta


In this type of commutation, a thyristor carrying

load current is commutated by transfering its load
current to another incoming thyristor.

Fig. 1.42(a) shows an arrangement employing

complementary commutation. In this circuit, firing of
SCR T 1 commutates T 2 and subsequently, firing of
SCR T2 commutates T1.
Voltages and current directions are marked in Fig.
1.42(a). in this fig, initially the capacitor is uncharged.
+ +
R1 R1 R1 R1
C iC
VS VS – +
– +
vC + vC +
vT1 T1 T2 vT2 T1 vT2=vc
– – i1 –
iT1 iT2
– –
(a) Circuit diagram (b) Circuit diagram
Fig. 1.42 Class-c commutation
Power Electronic Devices 1.77

0 t
0 t
iT1 Vs Vs
R1 R1
⎛ 1 1 ⎞ ⎛ 1 2 ⎞
Vs ⎜ + Vs ⎜ + ⎟
⎟ ⎝ R1 R 2 ⎠
⎝ R1 R 2 ⎠ t

0 t
–Vs Vs (1 − 2e − t/R1C
iT2 R2
⎛ 2 1 ⎞
Vs ⎜ + ⎟
⎝ R1 R 2 ⎠
0 t

Vs Vs
0 t

0 t
Vs − t/R 2C 2Vs − t/R 2C
e e
R2 2Vs R2
R2 R2
0 −2Vs
−2Vs − t/R 1C
R1 e
T1 t1 t2 t3

Fig. 1.43 Wave forms

When T1 is turned on at t = 0, current through R1
Vs Vs
is i1 = and through R 2 is ic = , so that the
R1 R2

⎡ 1 1 ⎤
thyristor current i T = i1 + i c = Vs ⎢ + ⎥ begins to
⎢⎣ R1 R 2 ⎥⎦
flow shown in Fig. 1.42(b) & 1.43.
1.78 Power Electronics

Capacitor C begins charging through R2 is given by

ic ( t ) =
−t R C
⋅e 2


and voltage across capacitor C is given by

v c ( t ) = Vs 1 − e
− t R 2C
voltage across thyristor T2 is v T = v c ( t ) .

After time, when transients are over v c = v T = VS 2

and i c decays to zero. Therefore i T = VS R 1 . The wave


forms are shown in Fig.

When T1 is to be turned off, T2 is triggered. If T2 is
turned on at t1 then capacitor voltage Vc applies a reverse
potential VS across SCR T1 and turns it off. At time t1,

− 2VS ⎡ 2 1 ⎤
v T = 0, v T = − VS , i C = and i T = Vs ⎢ + ⎥,
2 1
R1 2
⎢⎣ R1 R 2 ⎥⎦

since the source voltage and capacitor voltages are in

aided condition. In the circuit V S, R 1, C and T 2 the
capacitor voltage from V S to –VS, i.e, the capacitor is
discharged to zero voltage and then charged in the
negative direction. During this period the capacitor
current is given by

iC ( t ) =
− t R1C

As this current ic(t) flows opposite to the positive

direction marked in Fig.1.42(b), it is shown in negative
side shown in Fig. 1.43. From the above equation time t
Power Electronic Devices 1.79

is measured from the instant t1. Current i T falls from 2

⎡ 2 1 ⎤ V
its value VS ⎢ + ⎥ to S with time constant R C.
⎣⎢ 1 R 2 ⎥
⎦ R2 1

When the capacitor is charged to –V S after t 1,

v T = VS , vC = – Vs, ic= 0, VT and i T = 0.
= 0 , iT =
R2 2 2 1

when T 1 is turned onto commutate T 2 at instant t 3,

⎡ 2 1 ⎤ 2VS
i T = 0, i T = Vs ⎢ + ⎥ , v T = − Vs , v T = 0 and i c = .
2 1
⎢⎣ R 2 R1 ⎥⎦ 2 1 R2

With the turn on of T2 at t1, capacitor voltage VS

suddenly appears as reverse bias across, T1 to turn it
off. Similarly at t3, capacitor voltage VS applies a reverse
bias across T2 to turn it off. In this circuit T1 is turned
on to turn off the T2 and vice-versa. So, this commutation
is called as complementary impulse commutation.

1.26.4 Class-D commutation (Impulse commutation)

Fig. 1.44(a) shows the circuit diagram for class-D,

or impulse commutation. In this circuit, T1 and TA are
called main and auxiliary thyristor respectively.
+ vT1 – i i0=I0
ic T1
vC C
– TA
+ vTA –

(a) Circuit diagram
1.80 Power Electronics

0 t
0 t
0 t


0 t
π/ω0 –I0


0 t

Vs Vs
0 tc1 –Vs

0 t

t=0 t1 t2

(b) Wave forms

Fig. 1.44 Class - D commutation
Initially, main thyristor T1 and auxiliary thyristor
TA are off and capacitor is assumed that it charged to a
voltage VS with upper plate positive. When T1 is turned
on at t = 0, source voltage VS applied across load and
load current I 0 begins to flow, which is assumed to
remains current. When T 1 is turned on at t=0, an
Power Electronic Devices 1.81

oscillatory circuit consisting of C, T1, L and D is formed

where the capacitor current is in the form of sinusoidal
form and is given by

C sinω t = I sinω t.
i c = VS 0 P 0
When ω0t = π, i C = 0. Between 0 < t < ( π / ω0 ) ,
iT = I0 + IP sin ω0 t. Capacitor voltage changes from +VS to

zero for first half part of iC and is charged to –VS during

the remaining half. Now, the lower plate becomes
positive. At ω0 t = π, i C = 0, i T = I0 and v C = – V S ,

Fig. 1.44(b).
At t 1 , auxiliary thyristor T A is turned on.
Immediately after TA is on, capacitor voltage (VS) applies
a reverse voltage across main thyristor T 1 , so that
v T = − VS at t1 and SCR T1 is turned off and i T = 0 . The
1 1

load current is now carried by C and TA. Capacitor gets

charged from –VS to VS with constant load current I0.
The change is, therefore, linear from –V S to + V S as
shown. When vC = VS, iC = 0 at t2, thyristor TA turned
off. During the time TA is on from t1 to t2, vC = vT .
In this circuit TA is used to turn off T1, this type of
commutation is called auxiliary commutation and with
the firing of TA, a reverse voltage VS is suddenly applied
across T1 therefore, this method of commutation is also
called as Voltage Commutation. When thyristor TA is
ON, capacitor gets connected across T1 to turn it off, so
this commutation is also called as parallel – capacitor
1.82 Power Electronics

1.26.5 Class E Commutation (External Pulse Commuta


In this type of commutation, a pulse of current is

obtained from a separate voltage source to turn off the
conducting SCR. The peak value of this current pulse
must be more than the load current. Fig. 1.45 shows a
circuit using external–pulse commutation.

T1 T2 L T3
+ +

L +
VS O C 2V1 V1
A −

− −

Fig. 1.45 External pulse commutation circuit

Here, VS is the voltage of the main source and V1

is the voltage of the auxiliary supply. When the Thyristor
T1 is conducting, the load is connected to source V S.
When thyristor T3 is turned on, V1, T3, L, C forms an
oscillatory circuit. Therefore, C is charged to a voltage
+2V1 with upper plate positive. When the capacitor is
charged to 2V1, the oscillatory current falls to zero and
T3 gets turned–off.

For turning off the main thyristor T1, thyristor T2

is turned on. With T2 on, T1 is subjected to a reverse
voltage equal to VS – 2V1 and T 1 therefore turned off.
After T1 is off, capacitor discharges through the load.
Power Electronic Devices 1.83

1.26.6 Class F Commutation (Line or Natural Commuta


All the commutation circuits are used in D.C supply

except class F commutation and is used in A.C supply.

This type of commutation is also known as natural

commutation. This method of commutation is applied to
phase–controlled converters, line–commutated inverters,
A.C voltage controllers and step down cyclo–converters.

+ − io

T +

Vs = Vm sin ωt Vo R

(a) Circuit diagram


0 π 2π 3π ωt


0 ωt
π 2π 3π

0 ωt

(b) Waveforms
Fig. 1.46 Class - F commutation
1.84 Power Electronics

A single phase half wave controlled converter

employing line commutation is shown in Fig. 1.46(a). In
this circuit, thyristor T is fired at a firing angle α , say
equal to zero. i.e, when ωt=0, vS = 0. Load is in resistive
nature. With zero degree firing angle the thyristor
behaves like a diode. During positive half cycle, v0 = vS
and wave shape of load current i0 is identical to voltage
v0. At ωt = π, vS = 0. v0 = 0 and i0=0, here the current is
less than the holding current of thyristor, therefore
thyristor T gets turned off at this instant. From ωt = π
to 2π, T is reverse biased. In this way the current in the
circuit automatically decrease to zero at the end of every
half cycle. Therefore this type of commutation is called
as line or natural commutation.


❁ Thyristor is a power semiconductor device, which

has a door layers P-N-P-N and three junctions J1,
J2 and J3.
❁ A thyristor can be turned ON by a gate signal.
However, once it turns ON the gate losses control.
❁ The turn ON time of a thyristor is about 2-10 μ-
❁ The turn OFF time of a thyristor is about 50-100
Power Electronic Devices 1.85

❁ When SCRs Anode (A) is connected to positive

supply, Cathode (K) is connected to negative supply,
then SCR is said to be forward biased.
❁ The minimum Anode current of SCR below which
SCR can be turned off is called “Holding current
(I H)”.
❁ The minimum Anode current of SCR required to
maintain the SCR is ON state after SCR has been
turned ON is called “Latching current (IL)”.
❁ When Cathode is made positive with respect to
the Anode without gate signal, the SCR is said to
be in reverse biased.
❁ The time taken by thyristor to change from
downward blocking state to forward conduction
state is called “Turn-ON Time “(ton)”
ton = td + tr + tp
❁ The time taken by Anode current of thyristor to
increase from 0 to 10% of maximum current is
called “Delay time (td)”.
❁ Reverse Break Over Voltage: It is the reverse
voltage at which an SCR breaks down.
❁ The time taken by Anode current of thyristor to
increase from 10% of maximum current to 90% of
maximum current is called “Raise time (tr)”.
❁ The time required by a thyristor to change from
reverse blocking mode to forward blocking mode is
called “Turn-OFF time (toff)”.
1.86 Power Electronics

❁ Reverse Break orver Voltage : It is the reverse

voltage at which an SCR breaks down.

❁ Gate Turn-off SCR is a member of thyristor family.

It can be turned by positive gate pulse and turned
off by negative pulse.

❁ A Diode which can work on AC is called “DIAC”.

❁ DIAC is called as GATE LESS TRIAC.

❁ TRIODE that can work on AC is called “TRIAC”.

❁ TRIAC : Two inverse parallel connected SCR’s with

a common gate contained in one package.

❁ Traic may be triggered with positive and negative

polatiry voltages.

❁ Light Activated SCRs are triggered on by means of

light incident near the gate.

❁ Silicon Unilateral Switch (SUS) is three terminal

device. It is unidirectional switch and high
switching stability.

❁ Silicon Bidirectional Switch (SBS) is three terminal

bidirectional device with high switching stability.

❁ Silicon Control Switch (SCS) is four terminal

Unidirectional, low switching stability switch.

❁ Commutation is the process of turning-OFF of a

Power Electronic Devices 1.87

❁ Commutation Schemes of SCR :

i) Class - A Commutation : (Load commutation/

Self commutation).

ii) Class - B Commutation : (Resonant pulse


iii) Class - C Commutation : (Complementary


iv) Class - D Commutation : (Impulse or Auxiliary


v) Class - E Commutation : (External pulse


vi) Class - F Commutation : (Line or natural



1. The number of p-n junctions in a thyristor is

a) 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4
2. When Anode is positive with respect to Cathode
in an SCR, the number of blocked p-n junctions
a) 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4
3. When Cathode is positive with respect to Anode
in SCR, the number of blocked p-n junctions is
a) 1 b) 2 c) 3 d) 4
1.88 Power Electronics

4. In a thyristor, Anode current is made up of

a) electrons only b) electrons or holes
c) electrons and holes d) holes only
5. An SCR can be brought to forward conducting
state with gate-circuit open with the applied
voltage exceeds
a) the forward break over voltage
b) reverse breakdown voltage
c) 1.5 V
d) peak non-repetitive off-state voltage
6. In a thyristor, holding current is
a) more than latching current
b) less than IL
c) equal to IL
d) very small
7. In a thyristors
a) latching current IL is associated with turn-OFF
process holding current IH with turn-ON process.
b) both I L and I H are associated with turn-OFF
c) I H is associated with turn-OFF process and IL
with turn-ON process and I L with turn-ON
d) both I L and I H are associated with turn-ON
Power Electronic Devices 1.89

8. A thyristor can be termed as

a) DC switch b) AC switch
c) Either (a) or (b) d) Square-wave switch
9. Turn-on time of an SCR can be reduced by using
a) rectangular pulse of high amplitude and narrow
b) rectangular pulse of low amplitude and wide
c) triangular pulse
d) trapezoidal pulse
10. In an SCR1 Anode current flows over a narrow
region near the gate during
a) delay time td
b) raise time tr and spread time tp
c) td and tp
d) td and tr
11. The object of connecting resistance and
capacitance across gate circuit is to protect the
SCR gate against
a) over voltages b) dv/dt
c) noise signals d) over currents
12. An asymmetrical SCR (ASCR) has reverse voltage
rating of
a) 20 to 30 V b) 200 to 200 V
c) 500 to 2000 V d) 1000 V to 3000 V
1.90 Power Electronics

13. An asymmetrical SCR (ASCR) has forward voltage

rating in the range of
a) 20 V to 30 V b) 100 V to 200 KV
c) 500 V to 2000 V d) 5 KV to 10 KV


1. c 2. a 3. b 4. c 5. a 6. b 7. c
8. a 9. a 10. d 11. c 12. a 13. c


1. What are the applications of power electronics.

(Oct/NOV - 2013)
2. State and define any three representations of SCR
ratings. (Oct/Nov - 2011)
3. Explain the constructional details and working of
SCR with diagrams. (Oct/Nov-2011, April/May
4. State the ratings of an SCR. (Oct/Nov - 2012)
5. Explain the operation of SCR using two transistor
analogy. (April/May - 2015, 2008)
6. Explain the V-I characteristics of DIAC.
(April/May - 2015, Oct - 2007)
7. Explain the V-I characteristics of SCR under
forward bias and reverse bias conditions.
(March/April - 2013, April/May - 2011,
March - 2008)
Power Electronic Devices 1.91

8. Draw the symbols of the following :

i) DIAC ii) SUS iii) SBS iv) LASCR V) MTC
(Oct/Nov - 2009)
9. State the applications of the following :
i) SCR ii) SUS iii) TRIAC iv) LASCR
(April/May - 2015, 2012, 2011, OCT - 2011)
10. Explain the constructional details of TRIAC and
explain the VI characteristics with heat diagram.
(March/April - 2014)
11. State and explain triggering modes of TRIAC.
(Oct/Nov - 2011)
12. Explain the following terms applied to the SCR.
a) Turn-ON time b) Turn-off time
c) Holding current d) Latching current
(April/May - 2015, March - 2008)
13. Draw and explain the TRIAC firing circuit using
DIAC. (March/April - 2013, Oct - 2009)
14. Explain the LASCR in brief.
15. Distinguish between SUS and SCS.
(Oct/Nov - 2009)
16. Explain working of SCR circuit triggering by UJT.
(April/May - 2015, 2009, Oct - 2009)
17. Explain the construction of GTOSCR.
(Oct/Nov - 2012)
18. Write short notes on crow-bar circuit for protecting
the power devices.
1.92 Power Electronics

19. Explain the mechanism of protecting the power

devices using SCR circuit. (Oct - 2013)
20. Compare GTOSCR and SCR in four aspects.
(March/April - 2013, Oct - 2007, 2009)
21. Write any four applications of DIAC and TRIAC.
22. State any four advantages of TRIAC.
(March/April - 2013)
23. Write any four advantages of MCT.
24. Draw the vot-ampere characteristics of IGBT.
(March/April - 2013)
25. Briefly explain class - A commutation of thyristor
with a neat sketch.
26. Briefly explain class - B commutation of thyristor
with a neat sketch.
27. Briefly explain class - C commutation of thyristor
with a neat sketch.
28. Briefly explain class - D commutation of thyristor
with a neat sketch.
29. Briefly explain class - E commutation of thyristor
with a neat sketch.
30. Explain the necessity of commutation power
electronics. (March/April - 2014)