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Review of ON Semiconductor: TVS/Zener Theory and Design Considerations

Download TVS/Zener Theory and Design Considerations Handbook from ON Semiconductor (2005, 127 pages)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This handbook shows several high voltage circuits. You should not try to build them unless you have experience with the necessary safety measures. For a general introduction to electrical safety you might want to take a look at the Electrical Safety chapter in allaboutcircuits.

The first chapter Zener Diode Theory starting on p. 3 gives a very short introduction to semiconductor theory and the two fundamental mechanisms of Zener diodes (zener breakdown and avalanche breakdown). On p. 8 starts a short chapter on Zener Diode Fabrication Techniques. Pages 12-16 are about reliability of electronic components in general, so you can skip them if you are mainly interested in Zener diodes. But the next chapter Zener Diode Characteristics (p. 18) is very interesting and important. The same is true for the chapter on Temperature Compensated Zeners (p.30) where you learn how you can get more accuracy from a Zener diode. You should, however, keep in mind that for higher accuracies other compoments exist that are better suited than Zener diodes.

Starting with Basic Voltage Regulation Using Zener Diodes (p. 34) the next chapters show various circuits that use Zener diodes. As interesting as they are, for practical purposes you will often prefer to buy a voltage regulator IC like the 7805 (or one of his 3-legged friends), as they already contain nearly everything you need for voltage regulation in one tiny package. Nevertheless, studying and building the shown circuits for ecucational purposes might be quite interesting. The chapter Zener Protective Circuits and Techniques: Basic Design Consideration starts on p. 44, followed by Zener Voltage Sensing Circuits and Applications on p. 54. and Miscellaneous applications of Zener Type Devices on p. 61.

The chapter on Transient Voltage Suppression starts on p.63. It ends with a listing of the relevant regulatory requirements and guidelines on p. 81. The rest of the handbook is a collection of various ON Semiconductor application notes that are related to Zener diodes.

You may also be interested in some recommendations for resources on other kinds of Diodes.

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