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Zener Diode

  1. Sep 18, 2008 #1


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    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


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


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


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    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.
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