# Application Note

Vishay General Semiconductor

Using Rectifiers in Voltage Multiplier Circuits
By Joseph M. Beck, Senior Applications Engineer Systems designs frequently call for a high voltage, low current power source that needs only minimal regulation. A few familiar examples are CRT circuits, electrostatic copiers, and photoflash applications. Required voltages typically range from 10 to 30 kV and the current demand rarely exceeds 5 milliamperes. When your design requires this type of power source, you may want to consider a voltage multiplier circuit. They are inexpensive, easy to design, versatile, and can provide virtually any output voltage that is an odd or even multiple of the input voltage. This article explores the basic operation of multiplier circuits and discusses guidelines for electronic component selection. Since General Semiconductor is the industry’s leading manufacturer of rectifier products, we will place special emphasis on selecting rectifier diodes for multiplier circuits.
Vm sin ωt RS C1 CR2

Vm sin ωt

CR1

C2

RL ± 2 Vm as RL → 00

Figure 1A. Basic Multiplier Circuits. Half-Wave Voltage Doubler

RS1

C1 RL ± 2 Vm as RL → 00 C2

BASIC OPERATING PRINCIPLES
Most voltage multiplier circuits, regardless of their topology, consist chiefly of rectifiers and capacitors. Figure 1. shows three basic multiplier circuits. The operating principle of all three circuits is essentially the same. Capacitors connected in series are charged and discharged on alternate half-cycles of the supply voltage. Rectifiers and additional capacitors are used to force equal voltage increments across each of these series capacitors. The multiplier circuit’s output voltage is simply the sum of these series capacitor voltages. A wide variety of alternating signal inputs are used with multiplier circuits. The most popular are sine and square wave inputs. For simplicity, this discussion will be limited to sine wave inputs; the calculations become somewhat more involved with asymmetrical signals.
RS2

Figure 1B. Basic Multiplier Circuits. Half-Wave Voltage Doubler

RS

C1

a

C3

b

Vm sin ωt

CR1

CR2

CR3

RL ± 3 Vm as RL → 00

C2

Figure 1C. Basic Multiplier Circuits. Half-Wave Voltage Tripler

Voltage Doublers - Figure 1A. shows a half-wave voltage doubler circuit. It functions as follows. On the negative halfcycle of the input voltage, capacitor C1 charges, through rectifier CR1, to a voltage of Vm. On the positive half-cycle, the input voltage, in series with the voltage of C1 (VC1 = Vm), charges capacitor C2 through rectifier CR2 to the desired output voltage of 2 Vm. Capacitor C1, which aides in the charging of a capacitor C2, sees alternating current (“AC Cap”) while C2 sees only direct current (“DC Cap”). In this circuit, the output voltage and the input signal have the same ripple frequency. The same operating principle extends to the full-wave voltage doubler circuit of figure 1B. On the negative half-cycle of the input voltage, capacitor C2 is charged through rectifier CR2 to a voltage of Vm. On the positive
Document Number: 88842 Revision: 23-Jul-08

half-cycle, capacitor C1 is also charged to a voltage of Vm, through rectifier CR1. The series voltages of capacitors C1 and C2 (VC1 = VC2 = Vm) yield the desired output voltage: 2 Vm. In this case, capacitors C1 and C2 are “DC capacitors”; they see no alternating current. The output ripple frequency of the full-wave doubler is twice that of the input signal.