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2. Working & diagram
3. Advantages
4. Application
5. Conclusion & References
Principle of Operation
Varactors are operated reverse-biased so no current flows,
but since the thickness of the depletion zone varies with the
applied bias voltage, the capacitance of the diode can be made
to vary.
All diodes exhibit this phenomenon to some degree, but
specially made varactor diodes exploit the effect to boost the
capacitance and variability range achieved - most diode
fabrication attempts to achieve the opposite.
 The capacitance of the capacitor is dependent upon the
area of the plates - the larger the area the greater the
capacitance, and also the distance between them - the greater
the distance the smaller the level of capacitance.
The capacitance and the amount of charge that can be
stored depends on the area of the plates and the distance
between them as shown in fig. (a)
 Generally, the depletion region thickness is proportional to
the square root of the applied voltage; and capacitance is
inversely proportional to the depletion region thickness. Thus,
the capacitance is inversely proportional to the square root of
applied voltage.
Fig. (a) –
Varactor Diagram
diode of area &
symbol pl

Fig. (b) –
biasing &
We have seen that the normal diode is reverse biased to
operate as variable capacitor. For biasing the diode in reverse
bias should apply positive voltage at cathode & negative voltage
at anode.

In reverse bias mode, majority carriers of each P & N type

region are attracted at negative & positive terminals respectively.
Hence depletion region increases which act as dielectric
medium in between P & N regions which acts as two conducting
plates (like capacitor).
As we increase the reverse voltage, the attraction of
majority carriers will increase & this causes increase in distance
between that two barriers of depletion region. And decrease in
reverse voltage can minimize the attraction of majority carriers
which decreases distance between those barriers.

Increase in distance between two barriers reduces

capacitance value. And similarly decrease in distance between
barriers causes raise up the capacitance value offered by
varactor diode.
 This diodes capacitance could vary from minimum reverse
voltage (i.e. less than 0Volts)to diodes breakdown voltage.
Because if we apply more than its breakdown voltage (i.e. its
range is 0V<applied voltage<breakdown voltage), it will
 The capacitance at a given bias can be calculated from the
following equation: CJ (V) =[CJ (0 V)]/[1 + (V/Φ)]Γ


Φ = the built in potential (1.2 V for GaAs)

Γ = the tuning slope

CJ(0V)= the junction capacitance at 0 V

V = the reverse bias voltage

Fig. (c) – Circuit Diagram of Diode operating in
Reverse Bias

1. It is a voltage variable capacitor hence it is more reliable

2. No rotating parts which makes long life component.

3. It is not bulky & costly as compare to actual variable


4. Operate over very wide freq range (from few MHz to several

5. It is very fast response having component (about few


3. It need certain reverse bias voltage even its value is not


4. Here if we use normal diode, which is driving in reverse bias

& its applied voltage become more than breakdown voltage
then diode could get damage.
It is impossible to show all the circuits in which varactor /
varicap diodes may be used. However it is worth providing one
example to show how these diodes may be used in a typical
circuit. Effectively a capacitor is replaced with the varactor diode,
but it is necessary to also ensure that the tune voltage, i.e. the
voltage used to set the capacitance of the diode can be inserted
into the circuit, and that no voltages such as bias voltages from
the circuit itself can affect the varactor diode.
Circuit Diagram (a) – Variable Colpits Oscillator using Varactor Diode
Within this circuit (a), D1 is the varactor diode that is used to

enable the oscillator to be tuned. C1 prevents the reverse bias

for the varactor or varicap diode being shorted to ground
through the inductor, and R1 is a series isolating resistor
through which the varactor diode tuning voltage or bias is

The above oscillator was just an example. Varactor diodes can

be used also for FM modulator like voltage-controlled
oscillators as part of phase-locked loops, parametric
amplifiers, parametric oscillators and frequency synthesizers.
By above all things we can conclude following things,
The varactor diode is a variable capacitor whose capacitance
is inversely proportional to applied reverse (biased) voltage which
can vary by varying biasing voltage.
The capacitance at a given bias can be calculated from the
following equation:

CJ (V) =[CJ (0 V)]/[1 + (V/Φ)]Γ

Varactor diode is advantageous than variable capacitor hence

it mostly used in various application for tuning purpose.






Principles of Electronics – V. K. Mehta, Rohit Mehta.