pin diode 1

PIN diode Working Structure and Application

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PIN diode

What is PIN diode

A PIN diode is one type of diode in which a wide undoped (pure form),  intrinsic semiconductor region placed between (sandwiched) a P-type and N-type semiconductor region. This intrinsic semiconductor layer has high resistivity. The high resistive layer of the intrinsic region provides the large electric field between the P and N-region. It differs from a normal diode in the sense that it has an extra layer in between the p and the n junctions. The P and N-Type is heavily dopped and this is used for contacting terminals but the middle layer is in a pure crystal of silicon or germanium and this layer behaves like an insulator and does not conduct current well.

PIN diode symbol

The PIN diode was first used in the year 1952 as a low frequency and high power rectifier. In any PN junction, the P region contains holes as it has been doped to ensure that it has a predominance of holes. Similarly, the N region has been doped to contain excess of electrons. The intrinsic region between the P and N contains no charge carriers as any holes or electrons combine As the depletion region has no charge carriers, it acts as an insulator. The depletion layer exists within the PIN diode but when we connect in forward bias then both types of carriers come into the depletion layer and together make to start the current conduction.  By this property of PIN diode, we can say that pn junction and PIN diode are the same but there is one difference is it has one extra layer between p and n.

The i-region has high resistance which obstructs the flow of electrons to pass through it. PIN diode doesn’t suitable for rectifier applications.  The occurrence of an intrinsic layer can significantly increase the breakdown voltage for the application of high-voltage.

PIN diode working

When the diode is connected in forward biased, the charges are continuously injected into the I-region from the P and N-region. This reduces the forward resistance of the diode, and then it behaves like a variable resistance. The charge carriers does not immediately combine to Intrinsic layer from P and N layer. A quantity of charge stored in the intrinsic layer decreases their resistivity as the applied current.

When forward-biased, it acts like a current-controlled variable resistance.

The quantity of the charges stored in the intrinsic Layer/region depends on their recombination time. The forward current starts flowing into the I region.

PIN diode equation 2

Where, Q be the quantity of charge stored in the depletion region

I– forward current
τ- recombination time

The resistance (Rs) of the current under forwarding biased is inversely proportional to the charge Q stored in the intrinsic region.

equation pin diode

From equation (1) and (2), we ge

pin diode

Where, w – width region
μ – electron mobility
μ0 – hole mobility

The above equation shows that the resistance of the intrinsic region depends on the width of the region.

In reverse bias, the diode behaves like a capacitor and then P and N Layers acts like the positive and negative plates of the capacitor, and the intrinsic region is the insulator material between the plates.

When diode is connected in reverse bias, the width of the depletion Layer/region increases and the thickness of the region also increases until the entire mobile charge carrier of the I-region swept away from it. The reverse voltage requires for removing the complete charge carrier from the I-region is known as the swept voltage.

pin diode equation 1

Where, A – junction diode
w – intrinsic region thickness

The lowest frequency at which the effect starts to begins is expressed as

pin diode equation

Where, ε – silicon dielectric constant


Structure of PIN diode

As per name of this diode the PIN diode has three layers

  1. P-type Layer
  2. I (Intrinsic) Layer
  3. N-type Layer

construction of pin diode

The intrinsic layer makes this diode different as compared with the normal PN junction diode. PIN diode has three layers where PN junction diode has only two layers.


Application of PIN diode

  1. As High Voltage Rectifier The large width of the intrinsic layer allows the ability to the diode to tolerate high reverse voltage without the breakdown of the diode. Thus, rectification at high voltage can be implemented with PIN diode. S0, This diode is used as a high voltage rectifier.
  2. As Radio and Microwave frequency SwitchThe PIN diode makes an ideal RF switch. in this case, the diode operated in reverse biased, when the diode is reversed bias. The level of isolation is increased. Due to the intrinsic layer between the PN junctions, the level of capacitance Not store any charge and immediately changes from conduction to insulation and vice versa.
  3. As Attenuator and RF protection CircuitIt is mainly useful for RF design applications and also for providing the switching, or an attenuating element in RF  attenuators and RF switches.
  4. As PhotodiodeThe PIN diode is used for converting the light energy into electrical energy. When the light falls on the depletion region, the small current produced. IN PIN diode there are wide depletion region so, wide are of depletion region gets more volume of light to produce current and changes occur according to light easily 


Advantages of PIN diode

  1. High reverse breakdown voltage The PIN diode can be used as a high voltage rectifier. The wider intrinsic region provides greater isolation between the PN and N regions, allowing higher reverse voltages to be tolerated.
  2. High Capacitance– The width of the intrinsic layer is large due to which capacitance of diode is low. As the capacitance of a device is inversely proportional to the intrinsic region thickness.
  3. RF switch
  4. Suitable for High frequency– At higher frequencies, PIN diode acts as a resistor. The charges stored in the intrinsic region. At small frequencies, the charge can be separated and the diode switched OFF.


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