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A diode functions as the electronic version of a one-way valve. By restricting the direction of movement of charge carriers, diodes allow an electric current to flow in one direction, but blocks it in the opposite direction.
Diodes are called a
half wave rectifiers when they are used to convert alternating current
electricity into direct current, by
removing the negative portion of the current.
arrangement of four diodes that will transform an alternating current into a
direct current, using both positive
and negative excursions of a single phase alternating current, is known as a diode bridge, single-phase bridge rectifier, or
simply a full wave rectifier.
With a split
(center-tapped) alternating current supply it is possible to obtain full wave
rectification with only two
diodes. Often diodes come in pairs, as double diodes in the same housing.
When it is desired
to rectify three phase power, one could rectify each of the three phases with
the arrangement of four
diodes used in single phase, which would require a total of 12 diodes. However, due to redundancy, only six diodes are needed to make a three phase full wave rectifier. Most devices that generate alternating current (such devices are called
alternators) generate three phase alternating current.
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