Simple Diode Circuits - Working, Circuits, Formula, Applications

By Neeraj Dubey|Updated : August 25th, 2022

Diodes have various applications in power supply circuits, amplifiers, and amplifiers. We would look into some of these simple diode circuits with their types and corresponding output waveforms. Circuits like rectifiers, wave shifters, and shapers fall under simple diode circuits.

To understand discussed simple diode circuits, we will start with a brief revision on diodes and their working. Then, we will also see different diodes being intensively used in the electronics industry. Finally, we will see how changes in diode placement can define the different types of simple diode circuits.

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Table of Content

What is a Diode?

A diode is a two-terminal device made from semiconductors by doping pentavalent and trivalent impurities. Diodes are commonly used for switching but include applications in regulation, rectification, and optical and high-frequency circuits. Diodes conduct in one direction, forward or reverse, depending on the applied potential and required application.

A simple diode is shown, with two terminals, an anode and a cathode. The biasing condition is The difference in potential between the terminals decides reverse or Forward bias.

diode basic

There are different types of diodes, each with different applications. However, a junction diode, also known as a p-n junction diode, is most common and is mostly used in simple diode circuits.

different diodes

The most simple and common applications of diodes are Rectifiers, Wave Shaping Circuits, and Clampers.

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Rectifier simple diode circuits convert ac to dc signals utilizing the switching characteristics of a junction diode. Rectifier circuits are the basis of any electronic power supply and are also used in signal processing, for example, demodulation of radio signals.

Different types of rectifiers are discussed below with their basic circuitry and waveform outputs:

Half Wave Rectifier

A half-wave rectifier passes through an ac signal. Therefore, it requires a single diode for a single-phase ac signal. A half-wave rectifier converts ac signal to pulsating DC signal. A brief explanation of the circuit and response can be seen in the below figure.

half wave rectifier

Full Wave Rectifier

It converts both cycles of ac signal to pulsating DC and mathematically corresponds to the absolute value function. It requires four diodes or two diodes and a centre-taped transformer.

full wave rectifier

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Wave Shaping Circuits/Clipper Circuits

Such simple diode circuits convert one form of a wave to another. Wave shaping circuits find application in generating test signals. Some basic wave shaping circuits are briefed in the discussion below-

Clipping Circuits chop some portion of the input signal allowing only the portion between, above, or below a certain level of potential. For example, We can consider a half wave rectifier circuit a positive or negative clipping circuit since it clips off either the negative or positive part of the ac signals. The portion to be clipped is decided by the value of resistance and reference voltages connected in the circuitry.

Types of Clipper Simple Diode Circuits

The four types of clipper circuits are listed below.

  • Series Positive Clipper Circuit
  • Series Negative Clipper Circuit
  • Parallel Positive Clipper Circuit
  • Parallel Negative Clipper Circuit

Below we can see the types of clipping circuits based on the portion to be clipped and how changing the arrangement of certain elements can entirely change the output we get:

series positive clipperseries negative clipper

parallel positive clamperparallel  negative clipper

Clamping Circuits

Clamping simple diode circuits add a DC shift in ac signals; it does not change the wave's shape but instead shifts it above or below a reference voltage. There are two types of clamper circuits depending on the type of DC shift. A clamper circuit is also known as a DC shifter and can shift the signal towards positive or negative polarity; they are also classified as Positive Clamper and Negative Clamper.

Types of Clamping Simple Diode Circuits

Based on the DC shift in the wave, the two types of clamper circuits are listed below.

  • Positive Clamper
  • Negative Clamper


Important Topics for GATE Exam
ResponsivityCharacteristics of Laser
SR Flip-FlopTie Set Matrix
Norton's TheoremWhat is Laser?
P N Junction DiodeMillman's Theorem
Classless AddressingSimple Diode Circuits



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FAQs on Simple Diode Circuits

  • An ideal diode conducts as soon as it is connected to a forward bias representing a short circuit. It does not allow any leakage current connected in reverse bias and represents an open circuit. An ideal diode is synonymous with an ideal switch. 

    A real diode has imperfections, like voltage drop in the forward bias and leakage current in the reverse bias. As a result, it only starts conduction when the applied voltage is higher than the drop or cut-in voltage, and in reverse bias, it allows a very small current to flow through the diode, referred to as the leakage current. A real diode is the most used component in simple diode circuits.

  • A rectifier is one of the common applications of simple diode circuits. A rectifier is a circuit constructed with non-linear devices to convert a bipolar analog signal to a unipolar signal. It is often used with a capacitor to smoothen the pulsating nature of the wave. The purpose of a rectifier is to convert an AC signal into DC or a pulsating DC signal, which can be further used for driving DC devices and systems, mostly electronic devices.

  • A clipper circuit is distinguished by the portion of the waves that the circuit clips or blocks. A positive clipper circuit will clip out the positive portion of the wave signal, while the negative clipper will clip out the negative portion. There are two types of clipper circuits: Positive Clipper and Negative Clipper. Reference or bias voltages are commonly used in clipper circuits to limit the amount of clip on a portion. Clipper circuits are one of the most common applications of simple diode circuits.

  •  A clamper circuit in simple diode circuits, known as a DC shifter or restorer, shifts the DC signal level to the desired value. Shifting of DC level is required when we need to avoid certain polarity or voltage levels in a system.

  • Simple diode circuits is one where a normal p-n junction diode is utilized to achieve a required operation. A diode is often used as a switch in simple diode circuits. Some common examples of it are Rectifiers, Clippers, and Clampers. Some more examples would be voltage multipliers and buffers, as a voltage fluctuation-safe unit.

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