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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 R
BBO
, a datasheet item, is
the sum of R
B1
and R
B2
as shown in Figure below(b). R
BBO
ranges from 4-12k for different
device types. The intrinsic standoff ratio is the ratio of R
B1
to R
BBO
. 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 V
E
increases, current I
E
increases up I
P
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 R
B1
, the saturation resistance is
lowest at the valley point.
I
P
and I
V
, are datasheet parameters; For a 2n2647, I
P
and I
V
are 2A and 4mA,
respectively. [AMS] V
P
is the voltage drop across R
B1
plus a 0.7V diode drop; see Figure
below(b). V
V
is estimated to be approximately 10% of V
BB
.
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Unijunction transistor: (a) emitter characteristic curve, (b) model for V
P .
The relaxation oscillator in Figure below is an application of the unijunction oscillator. R
E
charges C
E
until the peak point. The unijunction emitter terminal has no effect on the
capacitor until this point is reached. Once the capacitor voltage, V
E
, reaches the peak
voltage point V
P
, the lowered emitter-base1 E-B1 resistance quickly discharges the
capacitor. Once the capacitor discharges below the valley point V
V
, 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 R
E
must fall within certain limits. It must be small enough to allow I
P
to flow based on the V
BB
supply less V
P
. It must be large enough to supply I
V
based on the
V
BB
supply less V
V
. [MHW] The equations and an example for a 2n2647:
Programmable Unijunction Transistor (PUT): Although the unijunction transistor is
listed as obsolete (read expensive if obtainable), the programmable unijunction transistor
is alive and well. It is inexpensive and in production. Though it serves a function similar to
the unijunction transistor, the PUT is a three terminal thyristor. The PUT shares the
four-layer structure typical of thyristors shown in Figure below. Note that the gate, an
N-type layer near the anode, is known as an anode gate. Moreover, the gate lead on the
schematic symbol is attached to the anode end of the symbol.
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Programmable unijunction transistor: Characteristic curve, internal construction, schematic
symbol.
The characteristic curve for the programmable unijunction transistor in Figure above is
similar to that of the unijunction transistor. This is a plot of anode current I
A
versus anode
voltage V
A
. The gate lead voltage sets, programs, the peak anode voltage V
P
. As anode
current inceases, voltage increases up to the peak point. Thereafter, increasing current
results in decreasing voltage, down to the valley point.
The PUT equivalent of the unijunction transistor is shown in Figure below. External PUT
resistors R1 and R2 replace unijunction transistor internal resistors R
B1
and R
B2
,
respectively. These resistors allow the calculation of the intrinsic standoff ratio .
PUT equivalent of unijunction transistor
Figure below shows the PUT version of the unijunction relaxation oscillator Figure previous.
Resistor R charges the capacitor until the peak point, Figure previous, then heavy
conduction moves the operating point down the negative resistance slope to the valley
point. A current spike flows through the cathode during capacitor discharge, developing a
voltage spike across the cathode resistors. After capacitor discharge, the operating point
resets back to the slope up to the peak point.
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PUT relaxation oscillator
Problem: What is the range of suitable values for R in Figure above, a relaxation
oscillator? The charging resistor must be small enough to supply enough current to raise
the anode to V
P
the peak point (Figure previous) while charging the capacitor. Once V
P
is
reached, anode voltage decreases as current increases (negative resistance), which moves
the operating point to the valley. It is the job of the capacitor to supply the valley current
I
V
. Once it is discharged, the operating point resets back to the upward slope to the peak
point. The resistor must be large enough so that it will never supply the high valley current
I
P
. If the charging resistor ever could supply that much current, the resistor would supply
the valley current after the capacitor was discharged and the operating point would never
reset back to the high resistance condition to the left of the peak point.
We select the same V
BB
=10V used for the unijunction transistor example. We select values
of R1 and R2 so that is about 2/3. We calculate and V
S
. The parallel equivalent of R1,
R2 is R
G
, which is only used to make selections from Table below. Along with V
S
=10, the
closest value to our 6.3, we find V
T
=0.6V, in Table below and calculate V
P
.
We also find I
P
and I
V
, the peak and valley currents, respectively in Table below. We still
need V
V
, the valley voltage. We used 10% of V
BB
= 1V, in the previous unijunction example.
Consulting the datasheet, we find the forward voltage V
F
=0.8V at I
F
=50mA. The valley
current I
V
=70A is much less than I
F
=50mA. Therefore, V
V
must be less than V
F
=0.8V.
How much less? To be safe we set V
V
=0V. This will raise the lower limit on the resistor
range a little.
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Choosing R > 143k guarantees that the operating point can reset from the valley point
after capacitor discharge. R < 755k allows charging up to V
P
at the peak point.
Selected 2n6027 PUT parameters, adapted from 2n6027 datasheet. [ON1]
Parameter Conditions min typical max units
V
T
V
V
S
=10V, R
G
=1Meg 0.2 0.7 1.6
V
S
=10V, R
G
=10k 0.2 0.35 0.6
I
P
A
V
S
=10V, R
G
=1Meg - 1.25 2.0
V
S
=10V, R
G
=10k - 4.0 5.0
I
V
A
V
S
=10V, R
G
=1Meg - 18 50
V
S
=10V, R
G
=10k 70 150 -
V
S
=10V, R
G
=2001500 - -
V
F
I
F
=50mA - 0.8 1.5 V
Figure below show the PUT relaxation oscillator with the final resistor values. A practical
application of a PUT triggering an SCR is also shown. This circuit needs a V
BB
unfiltered
supply (not shown) divided down from the bridge rectifier to reset the relaxation oscillator
after each power zero crossing. The variable resistor should have a minimum resistor in
series with it to prevent a low pot setting from hanging at the valley point.
PUT relaxation oscillator with component values. PUT drives SCR lamp dimmer.
PUT timing circuits are said to be usable to 10kHz. If a linear ramp is required instead of an
exponential ramp, replace the charging resistor with a constant current source such as a
FET based constant current diode. A substitute PUT may be built from a PNP and NPN
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silicon transistor as shown for the SCS equivalent circuit in Figure below by omitting the
cathode gate and using the anode gate.
REVIEW:
A unijunction transistor consists of two bases (B1, B2) attached to a resistive bar of
silicon, and an emitter in the center. The E-B1 junction has negative resistance
properties; it can switch between high and low resistance.
A PUT (programmable unijunction transistor) is a 3-terminal 4-layer thyristor acting
like a unijunction transistor. An external resistor network programs .
The intrinsic standoff ratio is =R1/(R1+R2) for a PUT; substitute R
B1
and R
B2
,
respectively, for a unijunction transistor. The trigger voltage is determined by .
Unijunction transistors and programmable unijunction transistors are applied to
oscillators, timing circuits, and thyristor triggering.
Related Links
Worksheet: Opamp oscillator circuits
Worksheet: Thyristors
Worksheet: Thyristor application circuits
Worksheet: Oscillator circuits
Worksheet: JFET amplifiers
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