|Invented||General Electric (1953)|
|Pin configuration||B2, B1, emitter|
A unijunction transistor (UJT) is a three-lead electronic semiconductor device with only one junction that acts exclusively as an electrically controlled switch.
The UJT is not used as a linear amplifier. It is used in free-running oscillators, synchronized or triggered oscillators, and pulse generation circuits at low to moderate frequencies (hundreds of kilohertz). It is widely used in the triggering circuits for silicon controlled rectifiers. The low cost per unit, combined with its unique characteristic, have warranted its use in a wide variety of applications like oscillators, pulse generators, saw-tooth generators, triggering circuits, phase control, timing circuits, and voltage- or current-regulated supplies.The original unijunction transistor types are now considered obsolete, but a later multi-layer device, the programmable unijunction transistor, is still widely available.
There are three types of unijunction transistor:
Unijunction transistor circuits were popular in hobbyist electronics circuits in the 1960s and 1970s because they allowed simple oscillators to be built using just one active device. For example, they were used for relaxation oscillators in variable-rate strobe lights.Later, as integrated circuits became more popular, oscillators such as the 555 timer IC became more commonly used.
In addition to its use as the active device in relaxation oscillators, one of the most important applications of UJTs or PUTs is to trigger thyristors (silicon controlled rectifiers (SCR), TRIAC, etc.). A DC voltage can be used to control a UJT or PUT circuit such that the "on-period" increases with an increase in the DC control voltage. This application is important for large AC current control.
UJTs can also be used to measure magnetic flux. The hall effect modulates the voltage at the PN junction. This affects the frequency of UJT relaxation oscillators.This only works with UJTs. PUTs do not exhibit this phenomenon.
The UJT has three terminals: an emitter (E) and two bases (B1 and B2) and so is sometimes known a "double-base diode". The base is formed by a lightly doped n-type bar of silicon. Two ohmic contacts B1 and B2 are attached at its ends. The emitter is of p-type is heavily doped; this single PN junction gives the device its name. The resistance between B1 and B2 when the emitter is open-circuit is called interbase resistance. The emitter junction is usually located closer to base-2 (B2) than base-1 (B1) so that the device is not symmetrical, because a symmetrical unit does not provide optimum electrical characteristics for most of the applications.
If no potential difference exists between its emitter and either of its base leads, there is an extremely small current from B1 to B2. On the other hand, if an adequately large voltage relative to its base leads, known as the trigger voltage, is applied to its emitter, then a very large current from its emitter joins the current from B1 to B2, which creates a larger B2 output current.
The schematic diagram symbol for a unijunction transistor represents the emitter lead with an arrow, showing the direction of conventional current when the emitter-base junction is conducting a current. A complementary UJT uses a p-type base and an n-type emitter, and operates the same as the n-type base device but with all voltage polarities reversed.
The structure of a UJT is similar to that of an N-channel JFET, but p-type (gate) material surrounds the N-type (channel) material in a JFET, and the gate surface is larger than the emitter junction of UJT. A UJT is operated with the emitter junction forward-biased while the JFET is normally operated with the gate junction reverse-biased. It is a current-controlled negative resistance device.
The device has a unique characteristic that when it is triggered, its emitter current increases regeneratively until it is restricted by emitter power supply. It exhibits a negative resistance characteristic and so it can be employed as an oscillator.
The UJT is biased with a positive voltage between the two bases. This causes a potential drop along the length of the device. When the emitter voltage is driven approximately one diode voltage above the voltage at the point where the P diffusion (emitter) is, current will begin to flow from the emitter into the base region. Because the base region is very lightly doped, the additional current (actually charges in the base region) causes conductivity modulation which reduces the resistance of the portion of the base between the emitter junction and the B2 terminal. This reduction in resistance means that the emitter junction is more forward biased, and so even more current is injected. Overall, the effect is a negative resistance at the emitter terminal. This is what makes the UJT useful, especially in simple oscillator circuits.
The unijunction transistor was invented as a byproduct of research on germanium tetrode transistors at General Electric.It was patented in 1953. Commercially, silicon devices were manufactured . A common part number is 2N2646.
A diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts current primarily in one direction ; it has low resistance in one direction, and high resistance in the other. A diode vacuum tube or thermionic diode is a vacuum tube with two electrodes, a heated cathode and a plate, in which electrons can flow in only one direction, from cathode to plate. A semiconductor diode, the most commonly used type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material with a p–n junction connected to two electrical terminals. Semiconductor diodes were the first semiconductor electronic devices. The discovery of asymmetric electrical conduction across the contact between a crystalline mineral and a metal was made by German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1874. Today, most diodes are made of silicon, but other materials such as gallium arsenide and germanium are also used.
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.
A semiconductor device is an electronic component that relies on the electronic properties of a semiconductor material for its function. Semiconductor devices have replaced vacuum tubes in most applications. They use electrical conduction in the solid state rather than the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a vacuum.
The junction gate field-effect transistor is one of the simplest types of field-effect transistor. JFETs are three-terminal semiconductor devices that can be used as electronically-controlled switches, amplifiers, or voltage-controlled resistors.
A bipolar junction transistor is a type of transistor that uses both electrons and holes as charge carriers.
A thyristor is a solid-state semiconductor device with four layers of alternating P- and N-type materials. It acts exclusively as a bistable switch, conducting when the gate receives a current trigger, and continuing to conduct until the voltage across the device is reversed biased, or until the voltage is removed. There are two designs, differing in what triggers the conducting state. In a three-lead thyristor, a small current on its Gate lead controls the larger current of the Anode to Cathode path. In a two-lead thyristor, conduction begins when the potential difference between the Anode and Cathode themselves is sufficiently large.
The Schottky diode, also known as Schottky barrier diode or hot-carrier diode, is a semiconductor diode formed by the junction of a semiconductor with a metal. It has a low forward voltage drop and a very fast switching action. The cat's-whisker detectors used in the early days of wireless and metal rectifiers used in early power applications can be considered primitive Schottky diodes.
In electronics, a varicap diode, varactor diode, variable capacitance diode, variable reactance diode or tuning diode is a type of diode designed to exploit the voltage-dependent capacitance of a reverse-biased p–n junction.
A silicon controlled rectifier or semiconductor controlled rectifier is a four-layer solid-state current-controlling device. The principle of four-layer p–n–p–n switching was developed by Moll, Tanenbaum, Goldey and Holonyak of Bell Laboratories in 1956. The practical demonstration of silicon controlled switching and detailed theoretical behavior of a device in agreement with the experimental results was presented by Dr Ian M. Mackintosh of Bell Laboratories in January 1958. The name "silicon controlled rectifier" is General Electric's trade name for a type of thyristor. The SCR was developed by a team of power engineers led by Gordon Hall and commercialized by Frank W. "Bill" Gutzwiller in 1957.
TRIAC is a generic trademark for a three terminal electronic component that conducts current in either direction when triggered. Its formal name is bidirectional triode thyristor or bilateral triode thyristor. A thyristor is analogous to a relay in that a small voltage induced current can control a much larger voltage and current. The illustration on the right shows the circuit symbol for a TRIAC where "A1" is Anode 1, "A2" is Anode 2, and "G" is Gate. Anode 1 and Anode 2 are normally termed Main Terminal 1 (MT1) and Main Terminal 2 (MT2) respectively.
A Schottky barrier, named after Walter H. Schottky, is a potential energy barrier for electrons formed at a metal–semiconductor junction. Schottky barriers have rectifying characteristics, suitable for use as a diode. One of the primary characteristics of a Schottky barrier is the Schottky barrier height, denoted by ΦB. The value of ΦB depends on the combination of metal and semiconductor.
A tunnel diode or Esaki diode is a type of semiconductor diode that has effectively "negative resistance" due to the quantum mechanical effect called tunneling. It was invented in August 1957 by Leo Esaki, Yuriko Kurose, and Takashi Suzuki when they were working at Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, now known as Sony. In 1973, Esaki received the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Brian Josephson, for discovering the electron tunneling effect used in these diodes. Robert Noyce independently devised the idea of a tunnel diode while working for William Shockley, but was discouraged from pursuing it. Tunnel diodes were first manufactured by Sony in 1957, followed by General Electric and other companies from about 1960, and are still made in low volume today.
A power semiconductor device is a semiconductor device used as a switch or rectifier in power electronics. Such a device is also called a power device or, when used in an integrated circuit, a power IC.
A MESFET is a field-effect transistor semiconductor device similar to a JFET with a Schottky (metal-semiconductor) junction instead of a p-n junction for a gate.
An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.
A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) designed to handle significant power levels. Compared to the other power semiconductor devices, such as an insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) or a thyristor, its main advantages are high switching speed and good efficiency at low voltages. It shares with the IGBT an isolated gate that makes it easy to drive. They can be subject to low gain, sometimes to a degree that the gate voltage needs to be higher than the voltage under control.
An avalanche transistor is a bipolar junction transistor designed for operation in the region of its collector-current/collector-to-emitter voltage characteristics beyond the collector-to-emitter breakdown voltage, called avalanche breakdown region. This region is characterized by avalanche breakdown, which is a phenomenon similar to Townsend discharge for gases, and negative differential resistance. Operation in the avalanche breakdown region is called avalanche-mode operation: it gives avalanche transistors the ability to switch very high currents with less than a nanosecond rise and fall times. Transistors not specifically designed for the purpose can have reasonably consistent avalanche properties; for example 82% of samples of the 15V high-speed switch 2N2369, manufactured over a 12-year period, were capable of generating avalanche breakdown pulses with rise time of 350 ps or less, using a 90V power supply as Jim Williams writes.
Quadracs are a special type of thyristor which combines a "diac" and a "triac" in a single package. The diac is the triggering device for the triac. Thyristors are four-layer (PNPN) semiconductor devices that act as switches, rectifiers or voltage regulators in a variety of applications. When triggered, thyristors turn on and become low-resistance current paths. They remain so even after the trigger is removed, and until the current is reduced to a certain level. Diacs are bi-directional diodes that switch AC voltages and trigger triacs or silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs). Except for a small leakage current, diacs do not conduct until the breakover voltage is reached. Triacs are three-terminal, silicon devices that function as two SCRs configured in an inverse, parallel arrangement. They provide load current during both halves of the AC supply voltage. By combining the functions of diacs and triacs, quadracs eliminate the need to buy and assemble discrete parts.
Programmable unijunction transistor (PUT) is a three-lead electronic semiconductor device with which is similar in characteristic to unijunction transistor except that it is programmable.
The field-effect transistor (FET) is a type of transistor which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. FETs are devices with three terminals: source, gate, and drain. FETs control the flow of current by the application of a voltage to the gate, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source.
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