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Semiconductor controlled rectifier

The SCR is a four-layer, three-junction and a three-terminal device. The end
P-region is the anode, the end N-region is the cathode and the inner P-region
is the gate. The anode to cathode is connected in series with the load circuit.
Essentially the device is a switch. Ideally it remains off (voltage blocking
state), or appears to have an infinite impedance until both the anode and gate
terminals have suitable positive voltages with respect to the cathode terminal.
In absence of external bias voltages, the majority carrier in each layer diffuses
until there is a built-in voltage that retards further diffusion. Some majority
carriers have enough energy to cross the barrier caused by the retarding
electric field at each junction. These carriers then become minority carriers
and can recombine with majority carriers. Minority carriers in each layer can
be accelerated across each junction by the fixed field, but because of absence
of external circuit in this case the sum of majority and minority carrier
currents must be zero.
A voltage bias, as shown in figure, and an external circuit to carry current
allow internal currents which include the following terms:

Forward blocking mode:

In this case junction J1 and J3 are forward biased
while J2 is reversed biased due to which only a
small leakage current flows from anode to cathode
till applied voltage reaches it break over value at
which J2 undergoes avalanche breakdown and at
this break over voltage it starts conducting but
below break over voltage it offers very high
resistance to the flow of current through to it and
said to be in off state.

Fig 1: Forward blocking

Forward Conduction mode

In this mode (Fig 2:), thyristor conducts currents
from anode to cathode with a very small voltage
drop across it. A thyristor is brought from forward
blocking mode to forward conduction mode by
turning it on by exceeding the forward break over
voltage. In this mode, thyristor is in on-state and
behaves like a closed switch.
In conduction mode, anode current is limited by
load impedance alone as voltage drop
across SCR is quite small. This small voltage drop
vT across the device is due to ohmic drop in the
four layers.
Reduce the current flowing through it below a
minimum value called holding current.
By applying a gate pulse between gate and cathode
the value of the forward break over voltage can be
reduced in addition to that on applying a negative

pulse at gate which will bring it in off state


Fig 2: Forward Conduction

Reverse blocking mode

When cathode is made positive with respect to
anode with switch S open, thyristor is reverse
biased as shown in Fig 3. Junctions J1 J3 are seen to
be reverse biased whereas junction J2 is forward
biased. The device behaves as if two diodes are
connected in series with reverse voltage applied
across them.
A small leakage current of the order of a few
milliamperes (or a few microamperes depending
upon the SCR rating) flows. This is reverse blocking
mode, called the off-state, of the thyristor. If the
reverse voltage is increased, then at a critical
breakdown level, called reverse breakdown voltage
VBR, an avalanche occurs at J1 and J3 and the
reverse current increases rapidly.

Fig 3: Reverse blocking

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