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Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS)
Module 7—Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
Chapter 1:  Pages 1-31 through 1-40

Module 7—Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies

Pages i - ix, 1-1 to 1-10, 1-11 to 1-20, 1-21 to 1-30, 1-31 to 1-40,
1-41 to 1-47, 2-1 to 2-10, 2-11 to 2-20, 2-21 to 2-30, 2-31 to 2-40,
2-41 to 2-50, 2-51 to 2-54, 3-1 to 3-10, 3-11 to 3-20, 3-21 to 3-30,
3-31 to 3-40, 3-41 to 3-50, 3-51 to 3-54, 4-1 to 4-10, 4-11 to 4-20,
4-21 to 4-30, 4-31 to 4-40, 4-41 to 4-50, 4-51 to 4-62, Index

 


being a "1," orange a "3," and white "9," the device would be identified as a type 139 semiconductor diode, or specifically 1N139.
 

Semiconductor diode color code system - RF Cafe

Figure 1-27.—Semiconductor diode color code system.


 
Keep in mind, whether the diode is a small crystal type or a large power rectifier type, both are still represented schematically, as explained earlier, by the schematic symbol shown in figure 1-12.
 
Q33.   What does the letter "N" indicate in the semiconductor identification system?
 
Q34.   What type of diode has orange, blue, and gray bands?
 
DIODE MAINTENANCE
 
Diodes are rugged and efficient. They are also expected to be relatively trouble free. Protective encapsulation processes and special coating techniques have even further increased their life expectancies. In theory, a diode should last indefinitely. However, if diodes are subjected to current overloads, their junctions will be damaged or destroyed. In addition, the application of excessively high operating voltages can damage or destroy junctions through arc-over, or excessive reverse currents. One of the greatest dangers to the diode is heat. Heat causes more electron-hole pairs to be generated, which in turn increases current flow. This increase in current generates more heat and the cycle repeats itself until
 
 

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the diode draws excessive current. This action is referred to as THERMAL RUNAWAY and eventually causes diode destruction. Extreme caution should be used when working with equipment containing diodes to ensure that these problems do not occur and cause irreparable diode damage.
 
The following is a list of some of the special safety precautions that should be observed when working with diodes:
 
·   Never remove or insert a diode into a circuit with voltage applied.
 
·   Never pry diodes to loosen them from their circuits.
 
·   Always be careful when soldering to ensure that excessive heat is not applied to the diode.
 
·   When testing a diode, ensure that the test voltage does not exceed the diode’s maximum allowable voltage.
 
·   Never put your fingers across a signal diode because the static charge from your body could short it out.
 
·   Always replace a diode with a direct replacement, or with one of the same type.
 
·   Ensure a replacement diode is put into a circuit in the correct direction.
 
If a diode has been subjected to excessive voltage or temperature and is suspected of being defective, it can be checked in various ways. The most convenient and quickest way of testing a diode is with an ohmmeter (fig. 1-28). To make the check, simply disconnect one of the diode leads from the circuit wiring, and make resistance measurements across the leads of the diode. The resistance measurements obtained depend upon the test-lead polarity of the ohmmeter; therefore, two measurements must be taken. The first measurement is taken with the test leads connected to either end of the diode and the second measurement is taken with the test leads reversed on the diode. The larger resistance value is assumed to be the reverse (back) resistance of the diode, and the smaller resistance (front) value is assumed to be the forward resistance. Measurement can be made for comparison purposes using another identical-type diode (known to be good) as a standard. Two high-value resistance measurements indicate that the diode is open or has a high forward resistance. Two low-value resistance measurements indicate that the diode is shorted or has a low reverse resistance. A normal set of measurements will show a high resistance in the reverse direction and a low resistance in the forward direction. The diode’s efficiency is determined by how low the forward resistance is compared with the reverse resistance. That is, it is desirable to have as great a ratio (often known as the front-to-back ratio or the back-to-front ratio) as possible between the reverse and forward resistance measurements. However, as a rule of thumb, a small signal diode will have a ratio of several hundred to one, while a power rectifier can operate satisfactorily with a ratio of 10 to 1.


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Checking a diode with an ohmmeter - RF Cafe

Figure 1-28.—Checking a diode with an ohmmeter.


 
One thing you should keep in mind about the ohmmeter check-it is not conclusive. It is still possible for a diode to check good under this test, but break down when placed back in the circuit. The problem is that the meter used to check the diode uses a lower voltage than the diode usually operates at in the circuit.
 
Another important point to remember is that a diode should not be condemned because two ohmmeters give different readings on the diode. This occurs because of the different internal resistances of the ohmmeters and the different states of charge on the ohmmeter batteries. Because each ohmmeter sends a different current through the diode, the two resistance values read on the meters will not be the same.
 
Another way of checking a diode is with the substitution method. In this method, a good diode is substituted for a questionable diode. This technique should be used only after you have made voltage and resistance measurements to make certain that there is no circuit defect that might damage the substitution diode. If more than one defective diode is present in the equipment section where trouble has been localized, this method becomes cumbersome, since several diodes may have to be replaced before the trouble is corrected. To determine which stages failed and which diodes are not defective, all of the removed diodes must be tested. This can be accomplished by observing whether the equipment operates correctly as each of the removed diodes is reinserted into the equipment.
 
In conclusion, the only valid check of a diode is a dynamic electrical test that determines the diode’s forward current (resistance) and reverse current (resistance) parameters. This test can be accomplished using various crystal diode test sets that are readily available from many manufacturers.
 
 

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Q35.   What is the greatest threat to a diode?
 
Q36.   When checking a diode with an ohmmeter, what is indicated by two high resistance measurements?
 

SUMMARY


 
Now that we have completed this chapter, a short review of the more important points covered in the chapter will follow. You should be thoroughly familiar with these points before continuing on to chapter 2.
 
The UNIVERSE consists of two main parts-matter and energy.
 
MATTER is anything that occupies space and has weight. Rocks, water, and air are examples of matter. Matter may be found in any one of three states: solid, liquid and gaseous. It can also be composed of either an element or a combination of elements.
 
An ELEMENT is a substance that cannot be reduced to a simpler form by chemical means. Iron, gold, silver, copper, and oxygen are all good examples of elements.
 
A COMPOUND is a chemical combination of two or more elements. Water, table salt, ethyl alcohol, and ammonia are all examples of compounds.
 
A MOLECULE is the smallest part of a compound that has all the characteristics of the compound. Each molecule contains some of the atoms of each of the elements forming the compound.
 
The ATOM is the smallest particle into which an element can be broken down and still retain all its original properties. An atom is made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons. The number and arrangement of these particles determine the kind of element.
 

ATOM - RF Cafe


 
An ELECTRON carries a small negative charge of electricity.
 
The PROTON carries a positive charge of electricity that is equal and opposite to the charge of the electron. However, the mass of the proton is approximately 1,837 times that of the electron.
 
 

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The NEUTRON is a neutral particle in that it has no electrical charge. The mass of the neutron is approximately equal to that of the proton.
 
An ELECTRON’S ENERGY LEVEL is the amount of energy required by an electron to stay in orbit. Just by the electron’s motion alone, it has kinetic energy. The electron’s position in reference to the nucleus gives it potential energy. An energy balance keeps the electron in orbit and as it gains or loses energy, it assumes an orbit further from or closer to the center of the atom.
 
SHELLS and SUBSHELLS are the orbits of the electrons in an atom. Each shell can contain a maximum number of electrons, which can be determined by the formula 2n 2. Shells are lettered K through Q, starting with K, which is the closest to the nucleus. The shell can also be split into four subshells labeled s, p, d, and f, which can contain 2, 6, 10, and 14 electrons, respectively.
 

SHELLS and SUBSHELLS - RF Cafe


 
VALENCE is the ability of an atom to combine with other atoms. The valence of an atom is determined by the number of electrons in the atom’s outermost shell. This shell is referred to as the VALENCE SHELL. The electrons in the outermost shell are called VALENCE ELECTRONS.
 
IONIZATION is the process by which an atom loses or gains electrons. An atom that loses some of its electrons in the process becomes positively charged and is called a POSITIVE ION. An atom that has an excess number of electrons is negatively charged and is called a NEGATIVE ION.
 
ENERGY BANDS are groups of energy levels that result from the close proximity of atoms in a solid. The three most important energy bands are the CONDUCTION BAND, FORBIDDEN BAND, and VALENCE BAND.
 
 

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ENERGY BANDS - RF Cafe


 
CONDUCTORS, SEMICONDUCTORS, and INSULATORS are categorized as such by using the energy band concept. It is the width of the forbidden band that determines whether a material is an insulator, a semiconductor, or a conductor. A CONDUCTOR has a very narrow forbidden band or none at all. A SEMICONDUCTOR has a medium width forbidden band. An INSULATOR has a wide forbidden band.
 

CONDUCTORS, SEMICONDUCTORS, and INSULATORS - RF Cafe


 
COVALENT BONDING is the sharing of valence electrons between two or more atoms. It is this bonding that holds the atoms together in an orderly structure called a CRYSTAL.
 
 

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COVALENT BONDING - RF Cafe


 
The CONDUCTION PROCESS in a SEMICONDUCTOR is accomplished by two different types of current flow: HOLE FLOW and ELECTRON FLOW. Hole flow is very similar to electron flow except that holes (positive charges) move toward a negative potential and in an opposite direction to that of the electrons. In an INTRINSIC semiconductor (one which does not contain any impurities), the number of holes always equals the number of conducting electrons.
 

CONDUCTION PROCESS in a SEMICONDUCTOR - RF Cafe


 
DOPING is the process by which small amounts of selected additives, called impurities, are added to semiconductors to increase their current flow. Semiconductors that undergo this treatment are referred to as EXTRINSIC SEMICONDUCTORS.
 
An N-TYPE SEMICONDUCTOR is one that is doped with an N-TYPE or donor impurity (an impurity that easily loses its extra electron to the semiconductor causing it to have an excess number of
 
 

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free electrons). Since this type of semiconductor has a surplus of electrons, the electrons are considered the majority current carriers, while the holes are the minority current carriers.
 

N-TYPE SEMICONDUCTOR - RF Cafe


 
A P-TYPE SEMICONDUCTOR is one which is doped with a P-TYPE or acceptor impurity (an impurity that reduces the number of free electrons causing more holes). The holes in this type semiconductor are the majority current carriers since they are present in the greatest quantity while the electrons are the minority current carriers.
 

P-TYPE SEMICONDUCTOR - RF Cafe


 
The SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE, also known as a PN JUNCTION DIODE, is a two-element semiconductor device that makes use of the rectifying properties of a PN junction to convert alternating current into direct current by permitting current flow in only one direction.
 
 

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SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE - RF Cafe


 
A PN JUNCTION CONSTRUCTION varies from one manufacturer to the next. Some of the more commonly used manufacturing techniques are: GROWN, ALLOY or FUSED-ALLOY, DIFFUSED, and POINT-CONTACT.
 

PN JUNCTION CONSTRUCTION - RF Cafe


 
CURRENT FLOW in an N-TYPE MATERIAL is similar to conduction in a copper wire. That is, with voltage applied across the material, electrons will move through the crystal toward the positive terminal just like current flows in a copper wire.
 
 

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CURRENT FLOW in an N-TYPE MATERIAL - RF Cafe


 
CURRENT FLOW in a P-TYPE MATERIAL is by positive holes, instead of negative electrons. Unlike the electron, the hole moves from the positive terminal of the P material to the negative terminal.
 

CURRENT FLOW in a P-TYPE MATERIAL - RF Cafe


 
JUNCTION BARRIER is an electrostatic field that has been created by the joining of a section of N material with a section of P material. Since holes and electrons must overcome this field to cross the junction, the electrostatic field is commonly called a BARRIER. Because there is a lack or depletion of free electrons and holes in the area around the barrier, this area has become known as the DEPLETION REGION.


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Introduction to Matter, Energy, and Direct Current, Introduction to Alternating Current and Transformers, Introduction to Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement, Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading, Introduction to Generators and Motors, Introduction to Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies, Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies, Introduction to Amplifiers, Introduction to Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits, Introduction to Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas, Microwave Principles, Modulation Principles, Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits, Introduction to Microelectronics, Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros, Introduction to Test Equipment, Radio-Frequency Communications Principles, Radar Principles, The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary, Test Methods and Practices, Introduction to Digital Computers, Magnetic Recording, Introduction to Fiber Optics

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