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Typical power diodeA power diode is a crystalline semiconductor device used mainly to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), a process known as rectification.

Like other diodes, the power diode acts as an electrical one-way valve, allowing current flow in one direction (forward) and blocking it in the other (reverse). In other words, it conducts electric current with minimal resistance in one direction, known as its forward direction, while preventing current from flowing in the opposite direction.

Typically capable of passing as much as several hundred amps forward, power diodes have much larger P-N junctions and hence higher forward current carrying capacity than their smaller signal diode relatives used in consumer electronics to regulate and reduce current. This makes power diodes better suited for applications where larger currents and higher voltages are involved.

Manufacturers generally produce a range of power diodes suitable for particular uses. They are rated according to the maximum current they can carry in the forward direction and the maximum reverse voltage they can withstand. Due to resistance, a small drop in voltage occurs when passing an electric current through a power diode in the forward direction. Conversely, a power diode can only withstand a certain amount of voltage acting across it in the reverse direction before it breaks down and ceases functioning.

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