# Zener diode modeling

Started by December 31, 2011
```   Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
(say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?
```
```"Robert Baer"
>
>  Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and measures
> the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents (say 5nA to
> 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees characteristics
> of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?

** Start here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zener_diode

Do not pass GO, do not collect \$200.

...  Phil

```
```On Dec 31, 5:49=A0am, Robert Baer <robertb...@localnet.com> wrote:
> =A0 =A0Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
> measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
> (say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
> characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
> =A0 =A0Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
> =A0 =A0Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
> =A0 =A0Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?

At nine volts, the breakdown is by avalanche.

It happens in very small areas, and the transit times is picoseconds,
so at low currents the avalanche self-extinguishes from time to time
due to the statistical fluctuations in avalanche multiplication
process - sometimes a charge carrier gets through the avalanche region
without generating any new charge-carrier pairs.

This isn't easy to model in Spice - it probably needs a current-
controlled random noise generator, but the real noise looks more like
a series of Dirac spikes.

For added extra complexity, you can throw in the fact that the
avalanche process generates light, and in glass-packaged zener diodes
this can trigger other avalanches.

There was a thread on the subject here, many years ago - "Zener diode
oscillation" from July 7, 1997.

--
Bill Sloman, Nijmegen

--
Bill Sloman, Nijmegen
```
```Robert Baer wrote:
>   Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
> measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
> (say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
> characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?

For negative voltage I do think the voltage needs to be up around
12 volts. Min of 10.5 the last time I experimented with that.

But this was all at the bench since LTspice can't sim that and I
operated a LED flashing for quit some time to test if the beta
was lose its punch.. It seem to survive the test.

And I did it with a 2n2222 if that makes any difference. I also
noticed with a another batch of 2222's from a different SI maker, it
would not work at all, unless the voltage range was different?

Jamie

```
```On Fri, 30 Dec 2011 20:49:20 -0800, Robert Baer
<robertbaer@localnet.com> wrote:

>   Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
>measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
>(say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
>characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?

Both phenomenon are present in any diode.  Below ~5.6V breakdown is
predominately Zener effect, above ~5.6V, predominately avalanche
breakdown.

>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?

Accurately?  Not easily.  Spice has BV and IBV terms in the diode
model.  Some simulators, such as PSpice, support the Mextram BJT model
which models avalanche in the _collector_:

http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/Philips_Models/bipolar/mextram/

Comes up as 404, but cross-references some links.

Off-the-top-of-my-head I don't know of a BJT model which covers the
B-E junction during breakdown.  Pasting a parallel diode with BV and
IBV roughly covers the problem, but doesn't model the true effects
that occur in the base region.

In much of the high-speed BJT (I/C) world, reverse-bias of the B-E
junction is forbidden above ~2-4V due to it causing doping migration
and ultimate device failure.

Here is what I use as a parameterized model for zeners that have no
manufacturer's model...

****
.SUBCKT MyZENER 1 2 PARAMS: BV=10 IBV=1m RS=1 IS=10f CJO=10pF
D1 1 2 DZ
.MODEL DZ D(
+         IS = {IS}
+         RS = {RS}
+          N = 1
+         EG = 1.11
+         BV = {BV}
+        IBV = {IBV}
+        CJO = {CJO}
+         VJ = 0.75
+          M = 0.33 )
.ENDS MyZENER
****

...Jim Thompson
--
| James E.Thompson, CTO                            |    mens     |
| Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems  |    manus    |
| Phoenix, Arizona  85048    Skype: Contacts Only  |             |
| Voice:(480)460-2350  Fax: Available upon request |  Brass Rat  |
| E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com |    1962     |

I love to cook with wine.     Sometimes I even put it in the food.
```
```On Sat, 31 Dec 2011 09:21:13 -0500, Jamie
<jamie_ka1lpa_not_valid_after_ka1lpa_@charter.net> wrote:

>Robert Baer wrote:
>>   Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
>> measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
>> (say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
>> characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?
>
>   For negative voltage I do think the voltage needs to be up around
>12 volts. Min of 10.5 the last time I experimented with that.
>
>   But this was all at the bench since LTspice can't sim that and I
>  operated a LED flashing for quit some time to test if the beta
>was lose its punch.. It seem to survive the test.

At high temperatures it won't... ask my wife... her car was the
testbench for early alternator regulator design ;-)

>
>   And I did it with a 2n2222 if that makes any difference. I also
>noticed with a another batch of 2222's from a different SI maker, it
>would not work at all, unless the voltage range was different?
>
>
>  Jamie

...Jim Thompson
--
| James E.Thompson, CTO                            |    mens     |
| Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems  |    manus    |
| Phoenix, Arizona  85048    Skype: Contacts Only  |             |
| Voice:(480)460-2350  Fax: Available upon request |  Brass Rat  |
| E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com |    1962     |

I love to cook with wine.     Sometimes I even put it in the food.
```
```Phil Allison wrote:
> "Robert Baer"
>>  Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and measures
>> the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents (say 5nA to
>> 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees characteristics
>> of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?
>
>
> ** Start here:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zener_diode
>
> Do not pass GO, do not collect \$200.
>
>
>
>
> ...  Phil
>
>
>
OK; the temperature coefficient is positive, so by WikiPedia
"avalanche effect .. exhibits a positive temperature coefficient", as
well as "above 5.6 volts, the avalanche effect becomes predominant".
And that is exactly what i thought..
But..
I thought that diodes working in the avalanche region would NOT act
in a monotonically increasing voltage VS current manner - especially
over such a wide current range.

Looking under avalanche diodes, WikiPedia states "Avalanche diodes
generate radio frequency noise. They are commonly used as noise sources
in radio equipment and hardware random number generators. For instance,
they are often used as a source of RF for antenna analyzer bridges.
Avalanche diodes can also be used as white noise generators" which tends
to support my confusion concerning the "actual" mode the diode is
operating in.

The I-V curve indicates a zener mode, the negative TC indicates
avalanche type (notice i avoided saying "mode").

So...i pete the questions again.
```
```Bill Sloman wrote:
> On Dec 31, 5:49 am, Robert Baer <robertb...@localnet.com> wrote:
>>    Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
>> measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
>> (say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
>> characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>>    Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>>    Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>>    Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?
>
> At nine volts, the breakdown is by avalanche.
>
> It happens in very small areas, and the transit times is picoseconds,
> so at low currents the avalanche self-extinguishes from time to time
> due to the statistical fluctuations in avalanche multiplication
> process - sometimes a charge carrier gets through the avalanche region
> without generating any new charge-carrier pairs.
>
> This isn't easy to model in Spice - it probably needs a current-
> controlled random noise generator, but the real noise looks more like
> a series of Dirac spikes.
>
> For added extra complexity, you can throw in the fact that the
> avalanche process generates light, and in glass-packaged zener diodes
> this can trigger other avalanches.
>
> There was a thread on the subject here, many years ago - "Zener diode
> oscillation" from July 7, 1997.
>
> --
> Bill Sloman, Nijmegen
>
> --
> Bill Sloman, Nijmegen
1) What about (say) 8.2 volts?
```
```Jamie wrote:
> Robert Baer wrote:
>>   Say one takes an E-B junction of a transistor or other diode and
>> measures the (reverse) breakdown voltage over a wide range of currents
>> (say 5nA to 5mA), and assume there is no point or range where one sees
>> characteristics of negative resistance or of oscillation.
>>   Also say that voltage is about 9 volts.
>>   Q: is that zener or avalanche breakdown?
>>   Q: how does one make a SPICE model of such a proposed beastie?
>
>   For negative voltage I do think the voltage needs to be up around
> 12 volts. Min of 10.5 the last time I experimented with that.
>
>   But this was all at the bench since LTspice can't sim that and I
>  operated a LED flashing for quit some time to test if the beta
> was lose its punch.. It seem to survive the test.
>
>   And I did it with a 2n2222 if that makes any difference. I also
> noticed with a another batch of 2222's from a different SI maker, it
> would not work at all, unless the voltage range was different?
>
>
>  Jamie
>
As far as a given type (2N2222, 2N3904, etc etc & etc), every
manufacturer of a given type will produce a transistor with different
reverse E-B characteristics - and those characteristics can suddenly
change with zero notice.
Note the E-B breakdown is "off the data sheet"; lotta so-called
quotes are "5V" and you will never find a (silicon small signal)
transistor below 7V.
```
```"Robert Baer"

>> ** Start here:
>>
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zener_diode
>>
>> Do not pass GO, do not collect \$200.
>>
>>
>   OK; the temperature coefficient is positive, so by WikiPedia "avalanche
> effect .. exhibits a positive temperature coefficient", as well as "above
> 5.6 volts, the avalanche effect becomes predominant".
>   And that is exactly what i thought..

** Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn....

>  I thought that diodes working in the avalanche region would NOT act in a
> monotonically increasing voltage VS current manner - especially over such
> a wide current range.

** You were expecting to see a tunnel diode effect ?

>  The I-V curve indicates a zener mode, the negative TC indicates avalanche
> type ..

** Both statements are wrong.