Lecture 7
PN Junction Diodes: IV Characteristics
Dr. Gaurav Trivedi,
EEE Department,
IIT Guwahati
Qualitative Derivation
Majority
carriers
Majority
carriers
Current Flow in a pn Junction Diode
When a forward bias (V
A
> 0) is applied, the potential barrier to diffusion across the
junction is reduced.
Minority carriers are “injected” into the quasineutral regions
Δn
p
> 0, Δp
n
> 0.
Minority carriers diffuse in the quasineutral regions, recombining with majority carriers.
Ideal Diode: Assumptions
Steadystate conditions.
Nondegenerately doped step junction.
Onedimensional diode.
Lowlevel injection conditions prevail in the quasineutral regions.
No processes other than drift, diffusion, and thermal R–G take place inside the diode.
Current Flow in a pn Junction Diode
N n N n N
( )
( )
dn d n
x q n qD q n qD
dx dx
µ µ
A
= + = + J E E
P p P p P
( )
( )
dp d p
x q p qD q p qD
dx dx
µ µ
A
= ÷ = ÷ J E E
Current density J = J
N
(x) + J
P
(x)
J
N
(x) and J
P
(x) may vary with position, but J is constant throughout the diode.
Yet an additional assumption is now made, that thermal recombinationgeneration is
negligible throughout the depletion region J
N
and J
P
are therefore determined to be
constants independent of position inside the depletion region.
Carrier Concentrations at –x
p
, +x
n
nside pside
p0 p A
2
i
p0 p
A
( )
( )
p x N
n
n x
N
÷ =
÷ =
n0 n D
2
i
n0 n
D
( )
( )
n x N
n
p x
N
=
=
p p A
( ) p x N ÷ =
n n D
( ) n x N =
Consider the equilibrium carrier concentrations at V
A
= 0:
If lowlevel injection conditions prevail in the quasineutral regions when V
A
= 0, then:
“Law of the Junction”
i P
N i
( )
i
( )
i
E F kT
F E kT
p n e
n n e
÷
÷
=
=
A
2
i
qV kT
np n e =
N i i P
N P
( ) ( ) 2
i
( ) 2
i
F E kT E F kT
F F kT
np n e e
n e
÷ ÷
÷
=
=
p n
for x x x ÷ s s
The voltage V
A
applied to a pn junction falls mostly across the depletion region (assuming
that lowlevel injection conditions prevail in the quasineutral regions).
Two quasiFermi levels is drawn in the depletion region:
Excess Carrier Concentrations at –x
p
, x
n
p p A
( ) p x N ÷ =
nside pside
n n D
( ) n x N =
A
2
i
p p
A
( ) ( 1)
qV kT
n
n x e
N
A ÷ = ÷
A
2
i
n n
D
( ) ( 1)
qV kT
n
p x e
N
A = ÷
A
A
2
i
p p
A
p0
( )
qV kT
qV kT
n e
n x
N
n e
÷ =
=
A
A
2
i
n n
D
n0
( )
qV kT
qV kT
n e
p x
N
p e
=
=
Excess Carrier Distribution
A
n n n0
( ) ( 1)
qV kT
p x p e A = ÷
2
n n
P
2
p
0 , 0
d p p
D x
dx t
A A
'
= ÷ >
'
P P
n 1 2
( )
x L x L
p x Ae A e
' ' ÷
'
A = +
0 x
'' 0 x
'
P P p
L Dt =
for 0 x
'
>
From the minority carrier diffusion
equation,
We have the following boundary
conditions:
n
( ) 0 p A · ÷
For simplicity, we develop a new
coordinate system:
Then, the solution is given by:
• L
P
: hole minority carrier
diffusion length
Excess Carrier Distribution
A
n n0
( 0) ( 1)
qV kT
p x p e
'
A ÷ = ÷
A P
n n0
( ) ( 1) , 0
qV kT x L
p x p e e x
' ÷
' '
A = ÷ >
P P
'/ '/
n 1 2
( )
x L x L
p x Ae A e
÷
'
A = +
N A
p p0
( ) ( 1) , 0
x L qV kT
n x n e e x
'' ÷
'' ''
A = ÷ >
A
/
1 n0
( 1)
qV kT
A p e = ÷
2
0 A =
New boundary conditions
n
( ) 0 p x
'
A ÷· =
From the x’ → ∞,
From the x’ → 0,
Therefore
Similarly,
pn Diode I–V Characteristic
A P
n P
P P n0
P
( )
( ) ( 1)
qV kT x L
d p x D
x qD q p e e
dx L
' ÷
'
A
'
= ÷ = ÷
'
J
N A
p
N
N N p0
N
( )
( ) ( 1)
x L qV kT
d n x
D
x qD q n e e
dx L
'' ÷
''
A
''
= ÷ = ÷
''
J
nside
pside
p n
N P N P
0 0 x x x x x x '' ' =÷ = = =
= + = + J J J J J
A
2
N P
i
N A P D
( 1)
qV kT
D D
qn e
L N L N
 
= + ÷

\ .
J
pn Diode I–V Characteristic
A
0
2
N P
0 i
N A P D
( 1)
qV kT
I I e
D D
I Aqn
L N L N
= ÷
 
= +

\ .
I A = J
A
2
N P
i
N A P D
( 1)
qV kT
D D
Aqn e
L N L N
 
= + ÷

\ .
• Shockley Equation,
for ideal diode
• I
0
can be viewed as the drift
current due to minority carriers
generated within the diffusion
lengths of the depletion region
Diode Saturation Current I
0
I
0
can vary by orders of magnitude, depending on the semiconductor material, due to n
i
2
factor.
In an asymmetrically doped pn junction, the term associated with the more heavily doped
side is negligible.
If the p side is much more heavily doped,
If the n side is much more heavily doped,
2
N P
0 i
P D N A
D D
I Aqn
L N L N
 
= +

\ .
2
P
0 i
P D
D
I Aqn
L N
 
~

\ .
2
N
0 i
N A
D
I Aqn
L N
 
~

\ .
Diode Carrier Currents
N P
= + J J J
N p n N p
P p n P n
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
x x x x
x x x x
÷ s s = ÷
÷ s s =
J J
J J
• Total current density is
constant inside the diode
• Negligible thermal RG throughout
depletion region
dJ
N
/dx = dJ
P
/dx = 0
Carrier Concentration: Forward Bias
n0
p
p0
p
p0
n
n0
n
A
2
i
qV kT
np n e =
p A
n D
p N
n N
=
=
Excess minority
carriers
Excess minority
carriers
A P
n n0
( ) ( 1)
qV kT x L
p x p e e
' ÷
'
A = ÷
N A
p p0
( ) ( 1)
x L qV kT
n x n e e
'' ÷
''
A = ÷
Law of the Junction
Low level injection conditions
Carrier Concentration: Reverse Bias
Deficit of minority carriers near the depletion region.
Depletion region acts like a “sink”, draining carriers from the adjacent quasineutral regions
Deviations from the Ideal IV Behavior