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Yousuf Jazzar

AP Physics 2 – Period 7

28 April 2018

Group Members:

Albert J, Joel K, Rayan W.

YouTube Video:

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In most devices that use electricity, a Direct Current (DC) is required for them to be able

to operate correctly. Despite this, most houses and building are equipped with Alternating

Current (AC). Thus, there must be a way that can convert the Alternating Current into Direct

Current. To learn more about this conversion, we spent that last few weeks learning about Full

Bridge Rectifiers and made one. In this paper, we will explore the history of the reasons why

power plants supply Alternating Current rather than Direct Current, explain how Full Bridge

Rectifiers work, as well as go over how we made one suitable for our needs.

[Title Here, up to 12 Words, on One to Two Lines]


Full Bridge Rectifiers are amongst one of the most important circuits used. Almost

everything used in our daily lives requires a direct current to operate. As will be discussed

however, direct current is not a very efficient mode of transporting electricity. Thus, we use

alternating current as the main way of delivering electricity to buildings and cities. Full Bridge

Rectifiers were made to convert the alternating current into direct current. Producing one was

rather simple, as it only required the use of four diodes and a capacitor. To be able to understand

how the Full Bridge works however, an understanding of the underlaying components is

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Being able to distribute electricity throughout the country is something vital to everyone.

As such, studying and understanding how this distribution happens is important knowledge to

acquire. In the late 1880s, a variety of inventions across the United States and Europe led to a

full-scale battle between alternating current and direct current distribution.

A major problem with being able to distribute electricity across all a city, or a country,

was how current tended to drop in voltages over long distances. To combat this problem,

Thomas Edison proposed a system of small, local power plants that would power individual

neighborhoods or city sections. Power was distributed using three wires from the power plant:

+110 volts, 0 volts, and -110 volts. Lights and motors could be connected between either the

+110V or 110V socket and 0V (neutral). The large 110 V supplied to the outlet allowed for

some drop of voltage between the power plant and the house, but it still required the house to be

within a one-mile radius from power stations. This made the transmission of electricity

extremely hard in large cities.

To fix this problem, Nikola Tesla worked hard to perfect the AC distribution system.

With transformers, it became significantly easier to set up voltages of AC to several thousand

volts before sending it to the consumers, and then stepping it back down into a useable quantity

when it reaches the houses, essentially eliminating the need to have the house being close to the

power source. As a result, power plants can be placed far away from the city, yet still service a

large number of people and buildings.

Since then, the modern age of electricity began to boom, allowing the subsequent

technology to be developed. Without the ability to have the same electricity we have today,

many of the commodities we enjoy such as computers and cell phones would not be possible.
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Full Bridge Rectifier

To explain how a Full Bridge Rectifier works, let’s start by looking at what a diode is. A

diode is a small device that makes sure electricity is flowing in one direction. For example,

referring to Figure 1, we can see the diode pointing in a specific direction. This arrow will

always point from the anode to the cathode. A positive charge will always be able to go through

the diode from the anode to the cathode, but never from the cathode to the anode. Inversely, an

electron will always be able to travel from the cathode to the anode, but never from the anode to

the cathode. These properties of diodes are the basis of how the Full Bridge Rectifier operates.

Figure 1: How a diode looks on a circuit.

Next, we need to define what a capacitor does. A capacitor is a device that can store

electric charge in the form of an electric field. Capacitors and batteries are very similar in terms

of their fundamental property of storing electricty, with one major difference. Whilst both can

store electricity and release it, each one does it in its own fashion. A battery typically uses

chemicals to store electric energy and release it very slowly to a circuit, sometimes even taking

years (like in the case of a quartz watch), while a capacitor is made of two conducting metal

plates with an insulator in between them and discharges the electricity it stores in high and short-

lasting bursts. The insulator in the middle is often called a dielectric, which can amplify the

capacitance of capacitor. The mathematical definition of capacitance is 𝐶 = , where C is the

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given capacitance of the capacitor (in farads), Q is the given charge on the plates of the capacitor,

and V is the potential difference across the capacitor (in volts). Sometimes in capacitors however,

instead of using two conducting metal plates, non-conducting material is substituted instead. This

changes how a capacitor behaves since the non-conducting material can carry a charge inside of

it, an effect not faced when using conducting material since all the charge would be able to go to

the surface of the plate. To account for this, we need to use integration to further define the

charge Q as 𝑄 = ∫ 𝜌 × 𝑑𝑉, where 𝜌 is the given charge density inside.

Now that we have acquired the knowledge necessary to build a Full Bridge Rectifier, we

need to delve into how it operates. Below we can see the basic schematic of the diode portion of

a Full Bridge rectifier.

Figure 2: Basic Full Bridge Rectifier circuit.

The diodes placed on the circuit are all places such that they would conduct an input of

alternating current input, into direct current output. In Figure 2, we see how the AC input is

signified by the squiggly line on the left and the DC output by the solid and dashed line. Let’s

look at exactly how a DC current is generated with this setup. We assume that at one random

instant, the red wire to the left will have access to a positive charge input, while the left side of

the blue wire will carry a negative charge. The positive charge will go through the given wire

until it reaches the junction in which two diodes split up the wire, where it will be blocked from

going through on one side, while still allowed to pas through by the other side. Thus, all the
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current in the positive charge will end up on the right side of the red wire. Doing the same thing,

the negative charge will travel from the given wire until it reaches the junction with two diodes,

where one of the sides will block all the current, while the other side will conduct all of it. If we

switch the charge signs on the input side of the circuit, we find that the red wire on the right side

of the circuit will always remain positive charge, while the right blue wire will always be a

negative charge.

What was explained so far is the basic way of how it is possible to change an alternating

current into direct current. Despite this, there is one more element to the mix that is missing. If a

graph of the current vs. time is made of the DC output, a result similar to Figure 3 is seen.

Figure 3

This is not what we desire for however. What a true DC output would look like is close to being

a horizontal line across the graph. To achieve this, we simply attach a capacitor to the ends of the

already existing output to create the final DC output (similar to the graph in Figure 4).

Figure 4
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Making the Device

The following is a walkthrough of how we made our own Full Bridge Rectifier. A notice

before we move further however is that we eliminated the use of a transformer to step down the

outlet voltage that is normally received (estimated around 210 V) into a reasonable amount, since

we were given the Workshop 750, which is able to produce an AC input with relatively low


Step 1: Place the four diodes in this orientation on the breadboard.

Step 2: Attach the input wires to the appropriate nodes on the diodes.
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Step 3: Extend the output nodes on the diodes to attach the capacitor

Step 4: Finally, connect the capacitor to the final DC output lines of the breadboard.
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AP Exam Style Questions

1. Find the magnitude of the induced current of a loop that is induced by a current-carrying
wire. The change in flux through the loop is 2t+3, where t represents time, and the
resistance of the loop is R.
A. -2/R
B. 2/R
C. (2t+3)/R
D. -2R

2. A wire loses charge to the surroundings, and the magnetic field vector near a circular
loop created by this current is into the page. What is the direction of the induced current
through the loop?
A. Clockwise
B. Counterclockwise
C. No direction; there is no induced current

3. If a proton enters a magnetic field, what sort of motion will it experience once it is inside
the field? Will the velocity change due to such a motion?

A. Parabolic motion; the velocity will change

B. Parabolic motion; the velocity will not change
C. Circular motion; the velocity will change
D. Circular motion; the velocity will not change

4. There is a current carrying wire and a square shaped loop, lying on one side of the
wire.We decrease the potential energies of every atom of the loop. Currently, the magnetic
field is into the page, but if another weaker magnitude magnetic field out of the page is
added, how will the magnetic flux change through the loop?

A. It will remain constant

B. Increase
C. Decrease
D. It cannot be determined

Answer Explanation:
By decreasing the potential energy of the loop, we are increasing the kinetic energy, meaning
that we increase the temperature of the loop. By heating the loop, it expands, and thus the area of
the loop increases. Since the magnetic flux is B*A, the area increases, but the magnetic field
strength is into the page, becoming weaker over time. Since this decreases the magnetic field
strength, this means that B decreases and A increases. Since we do not know the factor of how
much B decreases and A increases, we cannot determine what the magnetic flux will be through
the loop.
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5. A compass is placed below a solenoid. A current is flowing into the page through the loops
of the solenoid at the side where the compass is placed. In which direction will the north pole
of the compass point?

A. North
B. South
C. Left
D. Right

6. There is a square shaped configuration consisting of four individual current carrying wires
with constant current as shown in the figure. What will the direction be of the induced
current in the loop of wire?

A. Clockwise
B. Counterclockwise
C. No induced current
D. Cannot be determined

7. Imagine the following scenario: You are given a uniform magnetic field that has a
magnitude of 3 Teslas into the page. Within the magnetic field, there are two parallel
conducting rails, which are separated by a distance of 3 meters, and are connected through a
resistance of 5 ohms. How much energy will be dissipated by the resistor after 20 seconds?

A. 45 Joules
B. 900 Joules
C. 15 Joules
D. 300 Joules
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8. Current is flowing eastward through a metal rod, and due to thermal expansion, the cross-
sectional area of the rod is increasing. The potential difference between the ends of the rod is
kept constant. There is a loop of wire lying below the rod. What is the direction of current in
this loop after some time?

A. Counterclockwise
B. Clockwise
C. There is no induced current
D. Into the page
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 https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/alternating-current-ac-vs-direct-current-dc

 http://www.explainthatstuff.com/capacitors.html

 https://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/diode/diode_6.html

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