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Describe the characteristic of zener diode and

analyze its operation.

Explain how a zener is used in voltage

regulation and limiting

Describe the varactor diode and its variable

capacitance characteristics

Discuss the operation and characteristics of

LEDs and photodiodes

Discuss the basic characteristics of the current

regulator diode, the pin diode, the step-recovery
diode, the tunnel diode, and the laser diode.

Zener diodes
Zener diode applications
Varactor diodes
Optical diodes

Zener diode silicon pn-junction device that

is designed for operation in the reversebiased region.
The basic function of zener diode is to maintain
a nearly constant dc voltage under proper
operating condition.
Typically it is used to provide a stable reference
voltage for use in power supplies, voltmeter and
other equipment.
Zener diode symbol

Breakdown voltage set by controlling

the doping level during manufacture.
When diode reached reverse breakdown
voltage remains constant even though
current change drastically.
If zener diode is FB operates the same
as a rectifier diode.
A zener diode is much like a normal
diode but it is placed in the circuit in
reverse bias and operates in reverse
Note that its forward characteristics are
just like a normal diode.

General diode V-I characteristic

Two type of reverse breakdown: avalanche breakdown & zener


i) avalanche breakdown
- occurs in both rectifier & zener diodes at high reverse
- breakdown voltages greater than approximately 5V

ii) zener breakdown

- occurs at relatively low reverse voltage
- a zener diode is heavily doped to reduce breakdown voltage
this causes very thin depletion region
as a result, intense electric field exists within the depletion
- Near zener breakdown voltage (Vz), the field have enough
energy to pull electrons from their valence bands and
create current.

Note: both type called zener diode (breakdown voltages of 1.8V 200

The reverse voltage (VR) is increased the reverse current

(IR) remains extremely small up to the knee of the curve.
Reverse current called the zener current, I Z.

At that point, breakdown effect begin where zener

impedance (Zz) begin to decrease as IZ increases rapidly.

At the bottom of the knee- the zener breakdown voltage (V Z)

remains constant although it increase slightly as the zener
current, IZ increase.

IZK min. current required to maintain voltage regulation

IZM max. amount of current the diode can handle without
being damage/destroyed
IZT the current level at which the V Z rating of diode is
measured (specified on a data sheet)

The zener diode maintains nearly constant voltage for value

of reverse current rating from IZK to IZM

Zener impedance

er diode equivalent circuit model and the characteristic curve illustrating

Since the actual voltage is not ideally vertical,

the change in zener current produces a small
change in zener voltage
By ohms law:


Normally -Zz is specified at IZT.

In most cases, assume Zz is constant over full
range of zener current values and is purely

As with most devices, zener diodes have given characteristics

such as
temperature coefficients and power ratings that have to be
The data sheet provides this information (refer Figure 3-7).

Zener diode can be used as:

Voltage regulator to provide stable reference
Simple limiter or clipper

As i/p voltage varies (within limits) zener diode

maintains a constant o/p voltage
As VIN changes, IZ will change proportionally, so i/p
voltage variations are set by the min. & max.
current value (IZK & IZM) with which the zener can
Resistor, R current limiting resistor

i/p vary from

10.055V 32V

Maintain o/p voltage

From data sheet, 1N4740 10V zener diode maintain

regulation from IZK=0.25mA to IZM=100mA.
So,I ZK 0.25mA, PD (max) 1W , VZ 10V

PD (max)


For min. zener current, the voltage across the 220

ohm resistor:
Since VR = VIN - VZ,
VR I ZK R ( 0.25)( 220) 55mV
VIN (min) VR VZ 55mV 10V 10.055mV
For max. zener current, the voltage across resistor
VR I ZM R (100mA)(220) 22V


VIN (max) 22V 10V 32V

In this illustration of zener regulation circuit, the zener diode

will adjust its impedance based on varying input voltages
and loads (RL) to be able to maintain its designated zener

Zener current will increase or decrease directly with voltage

input changes. The zener current will increase or decrease
inversely with varying loads. Again, the zener has a finite
range of operation.
Note: The zener diode maintains a nearly constant voltage
across RL as long as the zener current is greater than IZK and
less than IZM

When output terminal of zener diode is open

(RL= ), the load current is zero.
All of the current is through the zener =>noload condition.
When RL is connected, current is flow through
zener and RL.
The total current through R is constant as long
as zener is regulating.
As RL decreases, load current IL increases, IZ
Zener diode continues to regulate the voltage
until IZ reaches its minimum value, IZK.
At this point, IL is maximum and full-load
condition exists.

Determine the minimum and maximum load current for

which the zener diode will maintain regulation. What is
the minimum RL that can be used? VZ=12V, IZK=1mA and
IZM=50mA. Assume ZZ=0 and VZ remains a constant
12V over range of current values.

Step 1: When IL=0A (R

), IZ is maximum and
equal to the total current, IT.
I z (max)

Vin V Z 24 12


Step 2: IZ(max) is less than IZM, so 0A is min. value

for IL because zener can handle all of 25.5mA.
RL can be removed from the circuit. IL(min) = 0A
Step 3: The max value of IL occurs when IZ is
min (IZ=I
I ZK) I I 25.5mA 1mA 24.5mA
L (max)


Step 4: The minimum value of RL is:

R L(min)

I L(max)



Figure below shown a 1N4733 zener regulated

circuit. Given VZ = 10 V at IZT = 10mA,IZK = 5mA,
ZZ = 20 and IZM = 20mA. Determine the
maximum permissible load currents.

The change in zener voltage,
The change in zener current,
Zener voltage for min and max values are:
V Z (min) V Z V Z
V Z (max) V Z V Z

Maximum and minimum zener current:

I Z (max) I T
I Z (min) I T

Vin V Z (max)
Vin V Z (min)



Maximum and minimum load current:

I L(max) I T I ZK
I L(min) I T I ZM

To find IL(max), let analyze the circuitzener

diode connected in parallel with load resistor,
RL. For parallel circuit, V same but I different.
A certain amount of I from source will flow
through zener diode and RL. If I through
zener diode is max, I flow through RL is
min. If I through zener diode is min, I
through RL is max. V for both zener and RL is
the SAME.
So, when current through zener diode, IZ is
min, VZ also min. On the other hand, IL will be
max as well as VL max.
Now, find VZ(min) from the formula.

V Z I Z Z Z I Z I ZT I ZK V Z (min) V Z V Z

The change in zener current is:

Find VZ(min): I Z I ZT I ZK 10 1 9mA

V Z I Z Z Z 0.009 A( 20 ) 0.18V

V Z (min) V Z V Z 10 0.18 9.82V

So, VZ(min)=9.82V. Then, we need to find total

current through the circuit, IZ(min). Using the
formula, Vin V Z (min) V R 24 9.82

I Z (min) I T


0.1418 A 141.8mA

Finally find IL(max) using the formula below.

Given in the question, IZK=5mA. So, IL(max) is
I L(max) I T I ZK 141.8 5 136.8mA

Zener diode also can be used in ac applications to limit

voltage swings to desired level
a) To limit the +ve peak of a signal voltage to the selected
zener voltage

During ve alternation, zener acts as FB diode &

limits the ve voltage to -0.7V
b) Zener diode is turn around

The ve peak is by FB zener action & +ve voltage is

limited to +0.7V
c) Two back-to-back zeners limit both peaks to the zener
voltage 0.7V

During the +ve alternation, D2 is functioning as the

zener limiter D1 is functioning as a FB diode.

During the ve alternation-the roles are reversed

Determine the output voltage for each

limiting circuit shown below.

When one zener is operating in breakdown, the

other one is FB with approximately 0.7V across
it. For figure a, during +ve cycle, D1(3.3V) FB
while D2(5.1V) is zener limiter. For figure b,
D1(6.2V) is zener limiter and D2(15V) is FB
during +ve cycle.

Optical Diode
Current Regulator Diode
Schottky Diode
PIN Diode
Step-recovery Diode
Tunnel Diode
Laser Diode

Although precise power supplies typically use IC type

regulators, zener diodes can be used alone as a voltage
regulator. As with all troubleshooting techniques we
must know what is normal.

A properly functioning zener will work to maintain the output

voltage within certain limits despite changes in load.

With an open zener diode, the full unregulated

voltage will be present at the output without a
load. In some cases with full or partial loading
an open zener could remain undetected.

no voltage dropped between

the filtered o/p of the power
supply & the o/p terminal


With excessive zener impedance the voltage

would be higher than normal but less than the
full unregulated output.

The zener has failed such that its internal

impedance is more than it should be.

The zener diode operates in reverse

A zener diode maintains a nearly constant
voltage across its terminals over a specified
range the maintenance of a specific
voltage with changing input voltages.
Load regulation is the maintenance of a
specific voltage for different loads.
Light emitting diodes (LED) emit either
infrared or visible light when forward-biased.
Photodiodes exhibit an increase in reverse
current with light intensity.