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Silicon-Controlled Rectifi er (SCR)
Diode AC Switch (DIAC)
Triode AC Switch (TRIAC)
The SCR is the most important special semiconductor device. This device is
popular for its Forward-Conducting and Reverse-blocking characteristics.
SCR can be used in high-power devices. For example, in the central processing
unit of the computer, the SCR is used in switch mode power supply (SMPS).
The DIAC, a combination of two Shockley Diodes, and the TRIAC, a
combination of two SCRs connected anti-parallelly are important power-control devices.

•SCR - A Silicon Controlled Rectifier (or

Semiconductor Controlled Rectifier) is a four
layer (p-n-p-n) solid state device that controls
current flow.
•An SCR can be seen as a conventional rectifier
controlled by a gate signal
•When the gate to cathode voltage exceeds a
certain threshold, the device turns 'on' and
conducts current
• It doesn't allow current to flow until it is triggered.
• Once triggered, will only allow the flow of current in one
• It has three terminals:
• 1) an input control terminal referred to as a 'gate';
• 2) an output terminal known as the 'anode'; and
• 3) a terminal known as a 'cathode', which is common to both the
gate and the anode.
SCR - A four-layer structure &

SCR Construction:
This two-transistor circuit is
stable in either of two states.



On state Off state

A four-layer structure replaces
the two-transistor circuit.


{ } p

The silicon controlled rectifier (SCR)
Anode Anode Anode

Gate Gate
Gate Q2 n

Cathode Cathode Cathode

• Forward breakover voltage V(BR)F* is that voltage above
which the SCR enters the conduction region. The asterisk
(*) is a letter to be added that is dependent on the
condition of the gate terminal as follows:
O= open circuit from G to K
S = short circuit from G to K
R = resistor from G to K
V = fixed bias (voltage) from G to K
• Holding current (IH) is that value of current below which
the SCR switches from the conduction state to the
forward blocking region under stated conditions.
• Forward and reverse blocking regions are the regions corresponding to the
opencircuit condition for the controlled rectifier which block the flow of
charge (current) from anode to cathode.

• Reverse breakdown voltage is equivalent to the Zener or avalanche region

of the fundamental two-layer semiconductor diode.
The SCR can be turned on at its gate terminal.

With a dc Load Anode

source, the
SCR stays
on after Cathode
it is gated. Gate

Gate pulse Time

occurs here
With an ac Load Anode

source, the
SCR turns
off at the Cathode
zero-crossing. Gate

off current


Gate pulse Time

occurs here
Turns off here
I–V Characteristics of the SCR:
I–V Characteristics of the SCR:

• As shown in Fig. 8-5, if the gate

current is 0 mA, the critical voltage is higher,
i.e., the SCR requires more voltage to switch
to the conducting state.
• But as the value of gate current
increases, the critical voltage becomes
lower, and the SCR switches to the
conducting state at a lower voltage.
• At the higher gate current IG2,
the SCR switches faster than at the lower
gate current IG1,
because IG2 > IG1.
Simple Applications:
• The SCR is the most important member of the thyristor family. The
SCR is a capable power device as it can handle thousands of amperes and volts.
• Generally the SCR is used in many applications such as in high power electronics,
switches, power-control and conversion mode.
• Static Switch: The SCR is used as a switch for power-switching in various control
• Power Control: Since the SCR can be turned on externally, it can be used to regulate
the amount of power delivered to a load.
• Surge Protection: In an SCR circuit, when the voltage rises beyond the threshold value,
the SCR is turned on to dissipate the charge or voltage quickly.
• Power Conversion: The SCR is also used for high-power conversion and regulation. This
includes conversion of power source from ac to ac, ac to dc and dc to ac.

• DIAC is two terminal four layer

semiconductor device (Thyristors)
• can conduct current in either
direction, when polarity is active.
• The two terminals A1 and A2 are
connected across in the DIAC
• When the break over voltage is
reached at either terminal, the DIAC
start conduction.
Construction of a Diac
• A diac is a P-N-P-N structured four-layer, two-terminal
semiconductor device.
• MT2 and MTX are the two main terminals of the device.
• There is no control terminal in this device.
• A diac unlike a diode, resembles a bipolar junction
transistor (BJT) but with exceptions:
• there is no terminal attached to the middle layer (base),
• the three regions are nearly identical in size,
• the doping level at the two end P-layers is the same so that the
device gives symmetrical switching characteristics for either polarity
of the applied voltage.
Construction of a Diac

• The characteristics of clearly

demonstrate that there is a
breakover voltage in either direction.

• This possibility of an on condition in

either direction can be used to its
fullest advantage in ac applications.

• The DIAC is widely used to assist even triggering of a TRIAC when

used in AC switches.
• DIACs are mainly used in dimmer applications and also in starter
circuits for florescent lamps.

• TRIAC is a type of Thyristors that can conduct current in both

directions when the polarity activated.
• The TRIAC is like the DIAC with a gate terminal.
• The TRIAC can be ON by a pulse or gate current
• It does not require the forward break over voltage to conduct as
does the DIAC.

• For either direction the gate

current can control the action of
the device in a manner very
similar to that demonstrated for
an SCR.
• The characteristics of the triac in
the first and third quadrants are
somewhat different from those of
the diac.

Note the holding current in each direction not present in the

characteristics of the diac.
Triac Applications
High Power TRIACS
• Switching for AC circuits, allowing the control of very large power flows
with milliampere-scale control currents
• Can eliminate mechanical wear in a relay

Low Power TRIACS

• Light bulb dimmers (done by applying power later in the AC cycle aka
PWM of AC wave)
• Motor speed controls for electric fans and other AC motors, and heaters
• Modern computerized control circuits in household appliances

• 1. A thyristor is a multilayer p–n terminal electronic device used for bi-stable
• 2. The SCR has two states:
(a) High-current low-impedance ON state
(b) Low-current OFF state

• 3. Holding current is defined as a minimum value of anode current below which it

must fall for turning off the thyristor..

• 4. The TRIAC is a bidirectional thyristor with three terminals. It is used extensively

for the control of power in ac circuits.
• 5. The DIAC is an n–p–n or p–n–p structure with a uniformly doped layer.