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What is a Diode and What Does it Do?

The following is an Article about (What is a Diode).
If you are new to the world of electronics and LED lighting, you may be wondering what is a diode and what does it do? To put it in layman’s terms, a diode is a one-way route for electric current to flow. Basically a diode is a one way valve that allows the current to run one way but not in the other.

The way a diode works can seem confusing to someone who is not familiar with electricity. But to keep it simple, a diode has two electrodes that work like semiconductors. There is a P or positive electrode which is called an anode and an N or negative electrode which is called a cathode. The cathode receiving a negative charge compared against the anode allows the current to flow. If the electrodes are similarly charged, the current will not flow.

Diodes serve a few different purposes in electronics. One way to think of a diode is as a check valve or switch for the electric current. If you think of electric current as water and the diode a ball check valve, it makes it easy to understand a diode. When a diode is used, the “water” can flow upstream but not downstream, or downstream but not upstream. Diodes can be reversed but will remain a one way path. Simply put, the water can flow but if it tries to flow the wrong way the diode will block the path.

Diodes can be used to convert an electric current from Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current (DC). This process is referred to as rectification and requires a rectifying diode. This is generally used with low voltage electric current applications. To increase the voltage flowing through, you can bridge diodes to create more power.

Diodes can also be used to turn a circuit off or on, using a switching diode. Did you ever wonder how different radio station bands are reached and kept separate? A band diode is used to switch between high frequency band signals.

Diodes are also used in producing signals, light and microwave frequencies. Light emitting diodes are known as LED, and probably most commonly used in computers, clocks, solar lighting and electronic panel displays. These days there are LED televisions and even modern Christmas lights as well.

Simple electronic diodes are used in so many areas of modern life that you would be surprised at the many applications of diodes you will find as you move through a normal day. When you flip a light switch, you have used a diode. A digital clock shows you the effect of a diode. How about your cell phone, iPod, laptop, remote control, and big screen television? Each and every one of these devices uses diodes.

Now that you know what a diode is, understanding electronics is probably going to be a much easier task. Electricity is all about current and the route it takes to bring the voltage to the necessary device. When you understand the basics of what the diode does, it helps you to understand LED lights and other uses as well.