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Homework Help: Why does Zener breakdown occure and why is it happeing?

  1. Dec 28, 2011 #1
    I was reading Zener diode topic from Boylestad's book and there was a line that I didn't quite understand. It states -
    "Zener breakdown will contribute to the sharp change in the characteristics because there is a strong electric field in the region of the junction that can disrupt the bonding forces within the atom and "generate" carriers."
    What does it actually mean? What I want to know is how a strong electric field is being created and how this electric field is disrupting the bonding forces within atom? How are carrier being generated? Are they majority carrier or minority carrier?
    I want to know the internal mechanism of the occurrence of Zener breakdown.
    Could anyone please help me out?
    Also, Zener potential, Breakdown voltage and Peak inverse/reverse voltage - do these three terms refer to the same thing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2011 #2

    rude man

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    Wikipedia: "The Zener diode's operation depends on the heavy doping of its p-n junction allowing electrons to tunnel from the valence band of the p-type material to the conduction band of the n-type material. In the atomic scale, this tunneling corresponds to the transport of valence band electrons into the empty conduction band states; as a result of the reduced barrier between these bands and high electric fields that are induced due to the relatively high levels of dopings on both sides."

    If you want to understand this further you need to pursue a course in solid state physics. Tunneling itself is a failry recent discovery and the theory lagged the discovery by quite a while.

    Breakdown voltage, zener voltage and peak reverse voltage are nominally the same.
  4. Dec 31, 2011 #3
    Thank you for helping me. I am gonna study it a bit more.
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