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Old 28th November 2009, 08:27 AM   #1
Mooly is offline Mooly  United Kingdom
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Join Date: Sep 2007

Another useful characteristic of diodes is that when their breakdown point is reached, the voltage across them remains relatively constant.

With the proviso that the current is limited to ensure the device remains within it's rating.

Zener diodes are specifically made for this purpose. In the case of Zeners, it is perfectly safe to exceed the reverse breakdown voltage and that is their purpose.

If you exceed the voltage rating of the device excess current will flow. It takes only a few millivolts increase to go from zero current flow to destructive current flow.
Voltages below around 5 volt are refered to as Zeners and above this more correctly avalanche diodes (although we all say Zener )
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