September 21, 2023

13 Different Types of Diodes and their Functions

Most electronic components require a semiconductor to function. A diode is one type of semiconductor and it uses two terminals to sustain the flow of an electric current in a single direction. The direction of the current flow has low resistance, while the opposite direction has high resistance.

You’ll find diodes in all kinds of electronic components, such as voltage regulators, signal modulators, signal limiters, rectifiers, oscillators, signal mixers, and signal demodulators. Many different types of diodes exist in various shapes and sizes. There are diodes designed for signal detection, laser light generation, regular light generation, power rectification, and so on.

The semiconductor materials used to manufacture diodes are selenium, germanium, and silicon. The voltage requirements for germanium diodes is 0.3 volts, while the voltage requirements for silicon diodes are 0.7 volts. In most cases, diodes serve as transient protectors and reverse polarity protectors.

13 Different types

Below are the top 10 types of diodes and their functions.

1) Light Emitting Diode

By now, most people have heard of a light-emitting diode before. They know it better by the acronym LED. A lot of light bulbs are now advertised as LED light bulbs rather than halogen light bulbs. LEDs are supposed to conserve energy while shining brighter and longer too. When the LED has a forwarding bias connection, the current passes through the PN junction in order to produce light.

2) Laser Diode

The laser diode produces coherent light, which makes it different than the standard light-emitting diode (LED). Back when laser light pointers, DVD drives, and CD drives were popular, these devices contained laser diodes in them. You don’t see these devices anymore though, because of the growth of digitalization. But laser diodes were always affordable to produce compared to most other laser generation technology. However, LEDs are still cheaper to produce than laser diodes.

3) Photodiode

The primary function of a photodiode is to be a light detector. As light makes contact with the PN junction, various holes and electrons are generated. A reverse bias is the normal condition of photodiodes. This means when the light shines, just a little bit of current flow is detectable from it. Electricity can be generated by photodiodes.

4) Schottky Diode

Schottky diodes are frequently utilized in clamping diodes and rectifier applications. They have a reduced forward voltage drop compared to the standard Si PN junction diodes. A Schottky diode may experience between a 0.15-volt and 0.40-volt drop, while the Si diode experiences up to a 0.60-volt drop.

5) Rectifier Diode

A rectifier diode is another standard diode, but it is the opposite of the PN junction diode. The difference here is the rectifier diode uses larger signals for applications that require high currents and high voltage.

6) Tunnel Diode

Microwave applications contain tunnel diodes. When the voltage of the tunnel diode gets higher, the electric current gets lower. Computers also use tunnel diodes as quick switching devices.

7) Backward Diode 

The backward diode is not commonly used anymore. It is a PN junction diode with many things in common with the tunnel diode. Only a select group of applications use backward diodes.

8) BARITT Diode

The BARITT diode stands for the “Barrier Injection Transit Time” diode. It is similar to the more popular IMPATT diode. It is used in microwave applications mostly.

9) Gunn Diode

The Gunn diode is a semiconductor and PN junction diode. It contains two terminals that generate microwave signals.

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10) PN Junction Diode

A PN junction diode is pretty standard as far as diodes go. They are small signals commonly found in applications that require low currents, including radio frequencies.

11) Zener Diodes

Zener diodes are commonly found in electronic devices. They allow electricity to pass through rather than preventing it from doing so. Zener voltage, which is better known as breakdown voltage, is needed for Zener diodes to function.

12) Varactor Diodes

Varactor didoes are used in several different electronic appliances. The area in the middle of the n-side and p-side are utilizes the most. This is known as the depletion zone. As the reverse voltage amount changes, so does the size of the depletion zone. You’ll find varactor diodes used to manage the high-speed frequencies found in computer chips.

13) PIN Diodes

PIN diodes have a normal layer in the middle of the p-side and n-side. They act very similar to a standard diode when they have slower frequencies. But if the frequencies are higher, then the PIN diodes become resistors because they cannot manage all the fast frequency changes taking place. The normal layer in between the two sides can tolerate high power inputs as well.

Basic Functions and Working Principle

A diode is a type of electronic component that is comprised of dual connectors, which are better known as electrodes. These connectors enable the flow of electricity to travel in one direction only. If you wanted to create a direct current from an alternating current, you would use a diode to conduct this conversion. Any device or appliance that supplies power is likely going to have diodes in it.

Diodes have an n-side and p-side. The former contains atoms with a lot of electrons and the latter contains atoms that need electrons. This makes it easy for the electrical flow to travel from the n-side to the p-side because the p-side is receiving the electrons that it is craving so much. On the other hand, if you tried to reverse the flow of electrons by transferring them from the p-side to the n-side, then it will be much more difficult.

From a technical standpoint, the p-side is referred to as an anode and the n-side is referred to as a cathode. But it is easier to remember p-side and n-side because they basically mean positive side and negative side; respectively. The n-side has electrons that are attracted to the positive side because that is where the positive voltage exists.

Meanwhile, the p-side has holes which are attracted to the negative side and its voltage. This is what sustains the flow of electric current between the two sides. However, this process cannot be started without a specific amount of voltage. If you only have a low voltage amount, then it won’t be able to start the flow of electric current.

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