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Electronic Circuits and Devices Laboratory - ELCE-221 Experiment No.

1 Characteristics of p-n Junction Diodes

Aim: To plot the electrical characteristics of silicon and germanium p-n junction diodes Objectives: On completion of this experiment the student should be able to: 1. Distinguish between the forward and the reverse characteristics. 2. Distinguish between static and dynamic resistance. 3. Understand the differences between Si and Ge diodes.

A p-n junction diode is a two terminal device, created by simply joining an n-type and a ptype semiconductor material together. At the instant the materials are joined, a region of uncovered positive and negative ions called depletion region or potential barrier will be formed across the junction (as shown in figure 1.1 (a)) due to the diffusion of majority carriers from p-region to n-region and vice versa. This potential barrier is 0.7V for silicon and 0.3 for germanium approximately. Figure 1.1 (b) shows the symbol of a p-n diode. The lead connected to the p-type material is called anode whereas the lead connected to the n-type material is called cathode.

(a) (b) Figure 1.1: p-n Junction Diode A diode has three operation conditions; no bias, forward bias and reverse bias. The term bias refers to the application of an external voltage across the device terminals to extract a response.

When no external voltage is applied across the p-n junction, the diode is said to be in the no bias condition. Under this condition only a depletion region exists across the junction as shown in figure 1.1 (a). The absence of voltage across it results in zero current through it the net flow of charge in one direction is zero. A forward biased condition is established by applying a positive potential to the p-type (Anode) and the negative potential to the n-type (Cathode) material as shown in figure 1.2(a). The diode does not pass any current until the potential across the diode exceeds the potential barrier (0.7 for Silicon and 0.3 for germanium). Once it exceeds the potential barrier (knee voltage), the current through the diode increases exponentially as shown in figure 1.2(c). If an external voltage is applied across the p-n junction such that the positive terminal is connected to n-type and the negative terminal to p-type material as shown in figure 1.2(b), the diode is said to be reverse biased. Under this condition the majority carriers in the semiconductor move away from the junction and hence the depletion region gets more widened, effectively reducing the majority carrier flow to zero. But the minority carriers entering the depletion region will not change and cause a reverse current flow through the diode called reverse saturation current. The reverse saturation current is seldom more than a few microamperes.

Figure 1.2:

I-V Characteristics of diode

Static (DC) and Dynamic (AC) Resistances of the Diode

When the diode is forward biased, it offers a finite resistance in the circuit. As the operating point of diode moves from one region to another the resistance of the diode will also change due to the nonlinear shape of the characteristics curve. The application of a dc voltage to a

diode will result in an operating point on the characteristics curve that will not change with time. The static resistance of a diode at any operating point is the ratio of DC voltage across the diode to DC current flowing though it at that point. Static Resistance RD = VD/ID. If the input to the diode is AC, the varying input will move the instantaneous operating point up and down and thus defines a specific change in current and voltage. Hence the dynamic resistance of the diode at any point is the reciprocal of the slope of the tangent of the characteristic curve at that point. Dynamic resistance (rD ) = Change in Voltage/Change in Current rD = VD/ID Note the identification methods used to mark a diode's cathode terminal: the schematic symbol has a line at the point of the triangle; the physical diode has a dark line on the plastic component housing; and the silk-screen pattern has both a line at the cathode end and a square pad for the cathode lead as shown in figure 1.3. When loading a diode into a circuit board, make sure that the dark line on the diode matches the line in the silk-screen pattern. Remember that since diodes allow current to flow in only one direction, a backwards diode will cause the circuit to malfunction.

Figure 1.3: Diode Cathode Terminal Identification

DC Variable power supply (0-30V), Multimeters Diodes (1N4001, OA90) Resistor (1K)

A) Forward Characteristics

1. 2. 3. 4.

Identify the anode and the cathode of the 1N4001 diode. Set up the circuit as shown in figure 1.4 on the bread board. Switch on the power keeping the input voltage at 0V. Vary the input voltage (Vin) from 0 to 2V in steps of 0.2V and measure the diode voltage (VD) and diode current (ID). Record the readings in Table 1.1(a). 5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 using OA90 diode in place of 1N4001.

Figure 1.4: Diode Forward Characteristic Measuring Circuit B) Reverse Characteristics 6. Set up the circuit as shown in figure 1.5 with 1N4001 diode. 7. Switch on the power keeping the input voltage at 0V. 8. Vary the input voltage (V in) from 0 to 20 V in steps of 2V and measure the diode voltage. (VD) and diode current (ID). Record the readings in Table 1.1(b). 9. Repeat steps 6 through 8 using OA90 diode in place of 1N4001.

Figure 1.5: Diode Reverse Characteristic Measuring Circuit 10. Plot the I-V of characteristics (forward and reverse) on same graph sheet. 11. Draw the load line (Vin = 3V) and find the operating points of 1N4001 and OA90 diodes. 12. Find the static and dynamic resistance of the diodes at the operating point. Record the readings in Table 1.2. 13. Compare the characteristics of Germanium and Silicon Diodes.

Table 1.1(a) Forward Characteristic VD 1N4001 ID OA90 Table 1.1(b) Reverse Characteristic VD 1N4001 ID OA90 Table 1.2 Static and Dynamic Resistance of the Diodes Operating Point Static Resistance Dynamic Resistance VD = VD = ID ID

















Diode 1N4001 OA90

Conclusion & Discussion

Answer the following questions:
1. 2. 3. 4. What is break down voltage? What is cut-in or knee voltage? Specify its value in case of Ge or Si? What is an ideal diode? How does it differ from a real diode? List two differences between Ge and Si diode.

[1] R. Boylestad and L. Nashelsky, Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory, 10th edition, Prentice-Hall, 2008. [2] A. Sedra and K. Smith, Microelectronic Circuits, 6 th edition, Oxford University Press, 2010.

Electronic Circuits and Devices Laboratory ELCE-221

Laboratory Experiment NO: 1 Marking Sheet (Include this as the cover sheet for your report) Students Names and ID Nos: 1-. 2-. 3-. Date of Experiment: ..

Laboratory Section: .

Please note that your work for this laboratory experiment will be assessed according to the marking scheme below. Please take this into account when conducting the experiment and writing the report.


Performance in the lab

This is to reflect the students Performance in the Lab Documentation and analysis of the results for each task performed in the lab. Conclusions for each task performed in the lab and the answers of the discussion questions. Overall presentation of the report including layout and clarity of figures, tables and graphs. Correct use of English language.

Weight %




2. 3.


Results and Analysis



Discussion/ Conclusion



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