The Unijunction Transistor – UJT Basic Construction and Working

Unijunction transistor: Although a unijunction transistor is not a thyristor, this device can trigger larger thyristors with a pulse at base B1. A unijunction transistor is composed of a bar of N-type silicon having a P-type connection in the middle. See Figure below (a). The connections at the ends of the bar are known as bases B1 and B2; the P-type mid-point is the emitter. With the emitter disconnected, the total resistance RBBO, a datasheet item, is the sum of RB1 and RB2 as shown in Figure below (b). RBBO ranges from 4-12kΩ for different device types. The intrinsic standoff ratio η is the ratio of RB1 to RBBO. It varies from 0.4 to 0.8 for different devices. The schematic symbol is Figure below (c)

Unijunction transistor: (a) Construction, (b) Model, (c) Symbol

The Unijunction emitter current vs voltage characteristic curve (Figure below(a) ) shows that as VE increases, current IE increases up IP at the peak point. Beyond the peak point, current increases as voltage decreases in the negative resistance region. The voltage reaches a minimum at the valley point. The resistance of RB1, the saturation resistance is lowest at the valley point.

IP and IV, are datasheet parameters; For a 2n2647, IP and IV are 2µA and 4mA, respectively. [AMS] VP is the voltage drop across RB1 plus a 0.7V diode drop; see Figure below(b). VV is estimated to be approximately 10% of VBB.

Unijunction transistor: (a) emitter characteristic curve, (b) model for VP .

The relaxation oscillator in Figure below is an application of the unijunction oscillator. RE charges CE until the peak point. The unijunction emitter terminal has no effect on the capacitor until this point is reached. Once the capacitor voltage, VE, reaches the peak voltage point VP, the lowered emitter-base1 E-B1 resistance quickly discharges the capacitor. Once the capacitor discharges below the valley point VV, the E-RB1 resistance reverts back to high resistance, and the capacitor is free to charge again.

Unijunction transistor relaxation oscillator and waveforms. Oscillator drives SCR.

During capacitor discharge through the E-B1 saturation resistance, a pulse may be seen on the external B1 and B2 load resistors, Figure above. The load resistor at B1 needs to be low to not affect the discharge time. The external resistor at B2 is optional. It may be replaced by a short circuit. The approximate frequency is given by 1/f = T = RC. A more accurate expression for frequency is given in Figure above.

The charging resistor RE must fall within certain limits. It must be small enough to allow IP to flow based on the VBB supply less VP. It must be large enough to supply IV based on the VBB supply less VV. [MHW] The equations and an example for a 2n2647:

Article extracted from Tony Kuphaldt’s Lesson in Electric circuits Volume III Semiconductors under the terms and conditions of Design Science License

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