High School Physics

Explain how a Zener diode can be used as a voltage regulator

The Zener diode makes its use as a voltage regulator due to the following property:
When a Zener diode is operated in the breakdown region, the voltage across it remains practically constant for a large change in the current.

A simple circuit of a voltage regulator using a Zener diode is shown in Figure 1.

figure 1: circuit showing Zener diode as a Voltage Regulator

The Zener diode is connected across load such that it is reverse biased.

The series resistance R absorbs the output voltage fluctuations so as to maintain a constant voltage across the load.

If the input dc voltage increases, the current through resistance R and Zener diode also increases. So, the voltage drop across R increases, without any change in the voltage across the Zener diode.

I-V Characteristics of Zener diode

figure 2 shows an I-V Characteristics of the Zener diode.

figure 2: I-V Characteristics of Zener diode
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