CIE A Level Physics (9702) 2019-2021

Revision Notes

26.2.1 Rectification

Rectification Graphs

  • Rectification is defined as:

The process of converting alternating current  and voltage into direct current  and voltage

  • Rectification is used in electronic equipment which requires a direct current
    • For example, mains voltage must be rectified from the alternating voltage produced at power stations
  • There are two types of rectification:
    • Half-wave rectification
    • Full-wave rectification
  • For half-wave rectification:
    • The graph of the output voltage Vout against time is a sine curve with the positive cycles and a flat line (Vout = 0) on the negative cycle
    • This is because the diode only conducts in the positive direction
  • For full-wave rectification:
    • The graph of the output voltage Vout against time is a sine curve where the positive cycles and the negative cycles are both curved ‘bumps’

Half-Wave Rectification

  • Half-wave rectification consists of a single diode
    • An alternating input voltage is connected to a circuit with a load resistor and diode in series
  • The diode will only conduct during the positive cycles of the input alternating voltage,
    • Hence there is only current in the load resistor during these positive cycles
  • The output voltage Vout across the resistor will fluctuate against against time in the same way as the input alternating voltage except there are no negative cycles
  • This type of rectification means half of the time the voltage is zero
  • So, the power available from a half-wave rectified supply is reduced

Full-Wave Rectification

  • Full-wave rectification requires a bridge rectifier circuit
    • This consists of four diodes connected across an input alternating voltage supply
  • The output voltage Vout is taken across a load resistor
  • During the positive cycles of the input voltage, one terminal if the voltage supply is positive and the other negative
    • Two diodes opposite each other that are in forward bias will conduct
    • The other two in reverse bias will not conduct
    • A current will flow in the load resistor with the positive terminal at the top of the resistor
  • During the negative cycles of the input voltage, the positive and negative terminals of the input alternating voltage supply will swap
    • The two diodes that were forward bias will now be in reverse bias and not conduct
    • The other two in reverse bias will now be in forward bias and will conduct
    • The current in the load resistor will still flow in the same direction as before
  • In both the positive and negative cycles, the current in the load resistor is the same
  • Each diode pair is the same as in half-wave rectification
    • Since there are two pairs, this equates to full-wave rectification overall
  • The main advantage of full-wave rectification compared to half-wave rectification is that there is more power available
    • Therefore, a greater power is supplied on every half cycle

Worked example

Full-Wave_Rectification_Worked_example_-_Full-Wave_Rectification_Question, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

      • Draw path of the current direction with diodes in forward bias
      • Remember that conventional current flow is from positive to negative and only travels through the paths with diodes in forward bias

Full-Wave_Rectification_Worked_example_-_Full-Wave_Rectification_Answer, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Therefore, the answer is: diodes A and C

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Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.
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