Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Zener Diode

  1. Sep 18, 2008 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I might be completely overlooking something here, but is a zener diode pretty much a normal rectifier diode used backwards? For a rectifier diode to conduct, the voltage across it must be greater than some forward voltage value, but the idea behind the zener diode seems to be exactly the same, but instead of utilizing the forward voltage value, it uses the breakdown voltage value?

    I know zener diodes are specifically designed to be operated in reverse-bias so they dont get damaged, but other than that, are they pretty much a 'backwards' rectifier diode? Or have i completely overlooked something?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Pretty much, yes.
  4. Sep 18, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Alrighty, thanks for the reply :smile:
  5. Sep 19, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    To elaborate on what Redbelly98 said, they're pretty much the same, except that Zeners are designed so that the breakdown voltage is very precise (they can often be used as a very basic voltage regulator along with a resistor), and also, usually much lower than that of a "plain jane" diode (few volts vs. tens or hundreds of volts).
  6. Sep 19, 2008 #5
    You need to read up on Zener Breakdown.. Similar devices are avalanche diodes and tunnel diodes and Gunn diodes. Tunnel diodes were popular in the 70s. They have a negative resistance part in their I - V curve and can be made to oscillate if connected to a tuned circuit.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Zener Diode
  1. Zener diode (Replies: 1)

  2. Zener diode (Replies: 1)

  3. Zener diode (Replies: 4)

  4. Pn and zener diode (Replies: 4)