Why Is Direction Of Current Opposite To Flow Of Electrons How Diodes Work

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How Diodes Work

Diodes: the simplest type of semiconductor elements. Since diodes are semiconductors, before we talk about diodes, let’s learn what semiconductors are. In general, a semiconductor is classified between a conductor and a non-conductor of electricity since it conducts electricity better than a non-conductor, but not better than a conductor of electricity. Most semiconductors consist of impurities; which atoms of another material are added to them. This process is called doping.

Additional atoms in doped materials change the balance by either adding free electrons or creating holes where the electrons can leave. These changes can make the material more conductive. Semiconductors that have been modified to have extra electrons are called N-type materials. In this case, free electrons can move from a negatively charged region to a positively charged region. Semiconductors that have extra holes where electrons can go are called P-type materials because they have extra positively charged particles. Electrons in these materials can jump from hole to hole, moving from a negatively charged region to a positively charged region.

A diode consists of both materials, an N-type material bonded to a portion of P-type material and has electrodes known as the anode and cathode at each end. This arrangement conducts electric current in one direction only and does not allow any flow in the opposite direction. If no voltage is applied to the diode, the electrons from the N-type material would move and fill the holes in the P-type material. Thus, a depletion zone is formed in which the semiconductor returns to the state in which it acts as an insulator because all the holes are filled without free electrons, which prevents the flow of charge.

Since the diode acts as an insulator, how can it be made to conduct current? This can be achieved if the electrons move from the N-type region to the P-type region and the holes in the opposite direction. To do this, connect the N-type region of the diode to the negative terminal of the battery and the P-type region to the positive terminal. The negative end would repel free electrons, while the positive end of the battery would attract them. The same would happen with holes in the P-type region. If the voltage difference between the electrodes is large enough, it would push the electrons and holes out of their region and make them move freely. This would eliminate the depletion zone and electrons that would be free to move and be able to conduct charge. If you tried to connect the P-type region to the negative terminal of the battery and the N-type region to the positive terminal of the battery, this would increase the discharge zone because holes and electrons would be attracted by opposites. Current would not be able to flow and now the diode would act as an insulator instead of a conductor.

The use of diodes serves to prevent unwanted charge flow in the wrong direction due to improper connection. They can protect your electronics from damage.

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