The PN Junction Diode Animation

The PN Junction Diode Animation

Zero Biased Junction Diode:

When a diode is connected in a Zero Bias condition, no external potential energy is applied to the PN junction. However if the diodes terminals are shorted together, a few holes (majority carriers) in the P-type material with enough energy to overcome the potential barrier will move across the junction against this barrier potential. This is known as the “Forward Current” and is referenced as IF

Likewise, holes generated in the N-type material (minority carriers), find this situation favourable and move across the junction in the opposite direction. This is known as the “Reverse Current” and is referenced as IR. This transfer of electrons and holes back and forth across the PN junction is known as diffusion.

Forward Biased PN Junction Diode:

When a diode is connected in a Forward Bias condition, a negative voltage is applied to the N-type material and a positive voltage is applied to the P-type material. If this external voltage becomes greater than the value of the potential barrier, approx. 0.7 volts for silicon and 0.3 volts for germanium, the potential barriers opposition will be overcome and current will start to flow.

This is because the negative voltage pushes or repels electrons towards the junction giving them the energy to cross over and combine with the holes being pushed in the opposite direction towards the junction by the positive voltage. This results in a characteristics curve of zero current flowing up to this voltage point, called the “knee” on the static curves and then a high current flow through the diode with little increase in the external voltage.

Reverse Biased PN Junction Diode:

When a diode is connected in a Reverse Bias condition, a positive voltage is applied to the N-type material and a negative voltage is applied to the P-type material.

The positive voltage applied to the N-type material attracts electrons towards the positive electrode and away from the junction, while the holes in the P-type end are also attracted away from the junction towards the negative electrode.

The net result is that the depletion layer grows wider due to a lack of electrons and holes and presents a high impedance path, almost an insulator. The result is that a high potential barrier is created thus preventing current from flowing through the semiconductor material.

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