Schottky diodes are constructed of a metal-to-N junction rather than a P-N semiconductor junction. Also known as hot-carrier diodes, Schottky diodes are characterized by fast switching times (low reverse-recovery time), low forward voltage drop (typically 0.25 to 0.4 volts for a metal-silicon junction), and low junction capacitance.
The schematic symbol for a schottky diode is shown in Figure below.
The forward voltage drop (VF), reverse-recovery time (trr), and junction capacitance (CJ) of Schottky diodes are closer to ideal than the average “rectifying” diode. This makes them well suited for high-frequency applications. Unfortunately, though, Schottky diodes typically have lower forward current (IF) and reverse voltage (VRRM and VDC) ratings than rectifying diodes and are thus unsuitable for applications involving substantial amounts of power. Though they are used in low voltage switching regulator power supplies.
Schottky diode technology finds broad application in high-speed computer circuits, where the fast switching time equates to high speed capability, and the low forward voltage drop equates to less power dissipation when conducting.
Switching regulator power supplies operating at 100’s of kHz cannot use conventional silicon diodes as rectifiers because of their slow switching speed . When the signal applied to a diode changes from forward to reverse bias, conduction continues for a short time, while carriers are being swept out of the depletion region. Conduction only ceases after this tr reverse recovery time has expired. Schottky diodes have a shorter reverse recovery time.
Regardless of switching speed, the 0.7 V forward voltage drop of silicon diodes causes poor efficiency in low voltage supplies. This is not a problem in, say, a 10 V supply. In a 1 V supply the 0.7 V drop is a substantial portion of the output. One solution is to use a schottky power diode which has a lower forward drop.
Article Extracted from Tony R. Kuphaldt Lessons In Electric Circuits — Volume III Chapter 3 under the terms and conditions of the CC BY License.