In electronics, rectifiers are electrical devices which are made up of one or more diodes that convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). In fact, even cell phone chargers utilize rectifiers to convert the AC from the outlets in our homes to DC. With countless electronics, rectifiers are available in different types.
There are two main voltage types, those of which are AC and DC. These voltage types can be easily converted from one type to the other with specially designed rectifiers. This process of converting AC to DC is called rectification. However, it follows after a process which involves filtering, DC-DC conversion, and more.
Though our main power supply comes from power grids that are alternating in nature, the appliances in our homes necessitate a small DC voltage. For example, many electronic circuits require rectified DC power supply to power countless electronic basic components from available AC supply. A simple bridge rectifier can be used in such instances. In simplistic terms, rectifiers take current that has both negative and positive components and rectify it so that only the positive component of the current remains.
Rectifier classification is dependent on the switching devices the rectifier uses, though most can be classified as uncontrolled and controlled rectifiers. Furthermore, they may be based on the type of rectification taking place, which can either be half wave rectifiers or full wave rectifier types. While half wave rectifiers only convert half of the AC wave into a DC signal, full wave rectifiers convert complete AC signals into DC.
This type of rectifier is defined by the inability to control its output voltage. Uncontrolled rectifiers only use diodes and provide a fixed output voltage based only on the AC input.
Controlled rectifiers have varied or changed output voltages. When looking at the shortcomings of uncontrolled rectifiers, the need for a controlled rectifier becomes apparent. To make an uncontrolled rectifier into a controlled one, current-controlled solid-state devices like SCRs, MOSFETs, and IGBTs can be used. When Silicon Controlled Rectifiers (SCRs) are switched ON or OFF based on the gate pulses applied to them, full control can be acquired. These are usually preferred over their uncontrolled counterparts.
Controlled rectifiers are composed of one or multiple SCRs, which are also called thyristors. These three-terminal diodes include an anode, cathode, and a control input known as a gate.
Applications of Rectifiers
As almost all electronic circuits operate on DC voltages, rectifiers are the go-to choice for all power rectification and electronics appliances. Rectifiers are utilized, as previously mentioned, when converting DC voltages to AC voltages. They may also be used in electric welding to provide a polarized voltage. Additionally, rectifiers are used in traction, such as in the rolling stock and three phase traction motors used for running trains. In particular, half wave rectifiers are utilized in mosquito repellent and soldering iron as well as in AM Radio as detectors. Finally, they may be used in modulation, demodulation, and voltage multipliers.
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