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Experiment no 18


To study forward & reverse characteristics of Si & Ge semiconductor diode.

TVS Make training module type: DCH-01 with patch chords & instruction manual.

A p-type semiconductor in contact with an n- type semiconductor constitutes a p-n
junction .Before the two semiconductors are brought together; each one is in
equilibrium, that is the hole and electron concentrations are constant and uniform
throughout each semiconductor. Fig 1.1(a) depicts this situation.
Just after contact majority holes from the p-type diffuse into the n-type and majority
electrons from the n-type diffuse into the p-type material. The holes and the electrons
recombine when they meet. However this flow of majority carriers eventually stops
because of formation of a thin layer in which holes and electrons recombine ,leaving a
row of negative ions on the p-side and row of positive ions on the n-side as shown in
fig 1.1 (b). The layer in which electron –hole recombination occurs is called the
depletion layer. The formation of charges on either side of the depletion layer
constitutes a potential barrier (contact potential). This potential barrier is 0.2V foe
germanium and 0.6 V for silicon.
It is the formation of the potential barrier that makes the p-n junction a useful device,
since its effect can be controlled by an externally applied voltage. The barrier voltage
can be neutralized by applying a d.c voltage of appropriate polarity as shown in fig
1.2(a). This is called forward biasing.
An external d.c voltage of same polarity as the barrier potential fig 1.2(b) keeps the
junction in reverse bias condition. The junction conducts heavily in the forward bias
condition while it offers high resistance to charge flow under reverse bias condition.
The current –voltage (V-I) characteristics of a junction diode is as shown in fig 1.3.
The relation between the diode current I and voltage V is given by:
I= Is(Exp (V/hVT) -1)
Where Is is reverse saturation current. VT is volt equivalent of temperature and is
given by VT =T 11.600 h is unity for germanium and approximately two for silicon. T
is the absolute temperature in the forward biased condition. The number of these
charge carriers injected at the junction increases with the voltage and thus the
current increases (exponentially) with the voltage.
When the diode is reverse biased and voltage V is greater than few volts. I= Is. The
reverse current tends to the magnitude of the reverse saturation current. Under
reverse bias conditions, minority charge carriers take part in the process of
conduction. It takes only a few tenths of a volt to clear all the minority carriers. Any
further increase in the bias voltage does not lead increase in the current as all the
carriers have already been set in motion.
Fig 1.4 is the circuit symbol for a semiconductor diode. The terminal marked
“Anode” is connected to p-type material while that marked “Cathode” is connected to
n-type material. Reference to fig 1.2(a) shows that to support current flow in this
diode the positive terminal of a battery must be connected to the anode and the
negative terminal to cathode in a forward –bias arrangement.

(i) Forward characteristics of Si diode:
1) Make the connections as shown in fig 1.8.
2) Connect the voltmeter of range 20V and ammeter of range 20 mA in the circuit.
3) Vary the in built D.C supply voltage in steps of 0.1V and note down corresponding
voltmeter and ammeter readings.
4) Plot the graph of forward voltage Vf (on X-axis) V/s forward current If (on Y-axis).
5) Find the slope of the graph and calculate forward resistance Rf.

(ii) Forward characteristics of Ge diode:-

1) Repeat steps 1 to 5 above except that now Si diode is replaced by Ge diode.

(iii) Reverse characteristics of Si diode:-

1) Make the connections as shown in fig 1.7.
2) Select the voltmeter range of 20V and ammeter range of 200 µA.
3) Vary the inbuilt D.C supply voltage in steps of 1 volt and note down corresponding
voltmeter and ammeter readings.
4) Plot the graph or reverse voltage Vr (on X-axis) V/S reverse current Ir
(on Y – axis).
5) Find the slope of the graph and calculate reverse resistance Rr.

(iv) Reverse characteristics of Ge diode:-

1) Repeat steps 1 to 5 above except that now Si diode is replaced by Ge diode.

1) During forward bias, the diode offers negligibly small forward resistance (Rf).
2) During reverse bias the diode offers very high reverse resistance (Rf).
3)during reverse bias in a zener diode breakdown occurs at Vz where large amount of
current can flow through the diode though the terminal voltage remains nearly