Potential Benefits of Silicon Carbide Zener Diodes Used as Components of Intrinsically Safe Barriers
Zener diodes are widely used in electrical barriers to protect equipment operating in a potentially explosive atmosphere. Although normally not conducting, the zeners must have a high power rating so that their junction temperature meets safety factors when shunting the maximum fuse current. This often requires two or three lower voltage commercial zeners connected in series. Silicon carbide diodes have much higher thermal conductivity and maximum allowed junction temperature, so it should be possible to use one SiC zener in the place of two or three commercial diodes and/or allow use of higher fuse ratings. Low voltage SiC Zener diodes were fabricated and tested to evaluate potential benefits of their application as a component of intrinsically safe barriers. The diodes demonstrated mixed avalanche-tunnel breakdown at reverse bias voltages of 23 V with positive temperature coefficients of breakdown voltages of about 0.4 mV/°C. The diodes with mesa area of 4×10-4cm2 had maximum DC Zener current of 1.2 A and were capable of operating at ambient temperatures up to 500°C.
N. Wright, C.M. Johnson, K. Vassilevski, I. Nikitina and A. Horsfall
P. Lark et al., "Potential Benefits of Silicon Carbide Zener Diodes Used as Components of Intrinsically Safe Barriers", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 556-557, pp. 937-940, 2007