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A triac is three terminal semiconductor switching device which can control

alternating current in a load.

It is an abbreviation for triode ac switch tri indicates that the device has three
terminals and ac means that the device controls alternating current or can contact current
in either direction.

The ac supply to be controlled across the main terminals of triac through a load
resistance Rl the gate circuit consists of battery a current limiting resistor R and switch
With switch S open there will be no gate current and the triac is cut off. Even with
no gate current, the triac can be turned on provided supply voltage become equal to the
breakover voltage of traic the noramal way to turn on triac is by introducing a proper
gate current.
When switch S is closed the gate current starts flowing in the gate circuit in a
similar manner to scr , the breakover voltage of the triac can be varied by making proper
gate current to flow.with a few milliamperes introduced at the gate , the triac will start
conducting wheter terminal MT2 is positive or negative with respect to MT1if terminal
MT2 is positive w.r.t. MT1 the triac turns on and the conventional current will flow from
MT2 to MT1. if the terminal MT2 is Negative w r to MT1. the traic is again tured on but
this time the conventional current flows from MT1 to MT2

The V-I characteristics for triac in the Ist and III rd quadrants are essentially
identical to those of an SCR in the first quadrant. The triac can be operated with either
positive or negative gate controlled voltage but in normal operation usually the gate
voltage is positive in Quadrant I and Negative in Quadrant III.

The supply voltage at which the triac is turned on depends upon the gate current.
the grater the gate current , the smaller supply voltage at which the triac is turned on .this
permits to use a triac to control ac power in a load 0 to full power in a smooth and
continues manner with no loss in the controlling device.

Applications of the Triac.

As a high power lamp switch

Electronic change over of transformer taps.


 The gate turn off thyristor is a PN PN device can be turned like an ordinary
thyristor by a pulse of Positive gate current.
 It can be easily turned off by a negative gate pulse of approximate amplitude.
 As no forced commutation circuitry is required for GTO’s .these devices are
compact and less cost.
 The negative gate current required to turn off a GTO is quite a large
percentage(20 to 30%) of anode current 800A.
 GTO require a negative current Pulse of 200A peak for turning it off.

VI characteristics :
 The latching current for large power GTO’s is several amperes(2A) as
compared to 100-500mA for conventional thyristors of the same rating.
 If Gate current is not able to turn on the GTO,it behaves like a high voltage
low gain transistor with considerable anode current.