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Q:

What is the difference between a zener diode and a P-N junction Diode?

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A zener is designed to operate stably in reverse breakdown, which is designed to be at a low voltage, between 3 volts and 200 volts. The breakdown voltage is specified as a voltage with a tolerance, such as 10 volts ±5%, which means the breakdown voltage (or operating voltage) will be between 9.5 volts and 10.5 volts. A signal diode or rectifier will have a high reverse breakdown, from 50 to 2000 volts, and is NOT designed to operate in the breakdown region. So exceeding the reverse voltage may result in the device being damaged. In addition, the breakdown voltage is specified as a minimum only. Forward characteristics are similar to both, although the zener's forward characteristics is usually not specified, as the zener will never be used in that region. A signal diode or rectifier has the forward voltage specified as a max voltage at one or more current levels. . more
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