What is Zener Diode, Definitions, Advantage & Disadvantage

Authored By: Ankita Prajapati

A Zener diode is a type of semiconductor diode that is designed to operate in the reverse-bias region, which is when the applied voltage is greater than the diode’s breakdown voltage. It is a two-terminal electrical device that allows current to flow in one direction, but not in the other. It is most commonly used for voltage regulation, signal clipping, and as a reference element.

The Zener diode utilizes the Zener effect, which is when the diode breaks down and allows the current to flow in the opposite direction when a certain voltage is exceeded. This breakdown voltage is known as the Zener voltage and can be controlled by adjusting the amount of doping of the diode.

Furthermore, Zener diodes are also used in signal clipping circuits, which are used to limit the maximum voltage of a signal. This is done by clipping off any voltage that exceeds the Zener voltage, thus preventing any damage to the device or circuit.

Zener diodes are also prone to thermal runaway. This is when the temperature of the diode increases, causing the Zener voltage to rise and thus increasing the current flow. This in turn leads to further increase in temperature, creating a feedback loop that can eventually damage the diode.

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Advantages

The major advantage of the Zener diode is its ability to maintain a constant voltage across its terminals.

This makes it ideal for use in voltage regulation and stabilization circuits, as it can be used to provide a stable and consistent output voltage regardless of the input voltage or load.

In addition, Zener diodes are relatively cheap, making them popular for use in low-cost electronics.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of the Zener diode is its limited power rating.

Unlike other types of diodes, the Zener diode cannot handle high-power applications as its power rating is relatively low.

As a result, it is not suitable for use in power supplies or other applications that require a large amount of power.

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Conclusion

Overall, Zener diodes are versatile devices that are commonly used in many electronic circuits.

They offer a number of advantages such as voltage regulation, signal clipping, and low cost.

However, their power rating is relatively low and they are prone to thermal runaway, making them unsuitable for high-power applications.

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