Sunday, 7 July 2013

Varicaps - Introduction, diodes that act like variable capacitors

Amongst my stock of vintage diodes are some varicaps, Wikipedia tells us the following about them:

In electronics, a varicap diode, varactor diode, variable capacitance diode, variable reactance diode or tuning diode is a type of diode whose capacitance varies as a function of the voltage applied across its terminals.
Varactors are used as voltage-controlled capacitors. They are commonly used in voltage-controlled oscillators, parametric amplifiers, and frequency multipiers. Voltage-controlled oscillators have many applications such as frequency modulation for FM transmitters and phase-locked loops. Phase-locked loops are used for the frequency synthesizers that tune many radios, television sets, and cellular telephones.
Varactors are operated in a reverse-biased state. No current flows, but since the thickness of the depletion zone varies with the applied bias voltage, the capacitance of the diode can be made to vary. Generally, the depletion region thickness is proportional to the square root of the applied voltage; capacitance is inversely proportional to the depletion region thickness. Thus, the capacitance is inversely proportional to the square root of applied voltage.
All diodes exhibit this phenomenon to some degree, but varactor diodes are manufactured specifically to exploit this effect and increase the capacitance (and thus the range of variability), whereas most ordinary diode fabrication strives to minimize the capacitance.

So there you have it, watch this space, the varicaps are coming!


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