Transistor Parameters and Their Characteristics

The transistor, as a three-terminal semiconductor device, is widely used in modern electronic circuits, serving both as an amplifier and a switch. With the rapid advancement of integrated technology, various types of transistors have found extensive applications, each having its unique set of parameters and characteristics.

Table of Contents

Current Gain Factor

The current gain factor (commonly denoted as hFE) is a key parameter used to describe the amplification capability of a transistor. For instance, when hFE = 100, the output current is 100 times the input current. This factor is divided into DC and AC components based on the transistor’s operating conditions.

DC component: Also known as the static current gain factor, it describes the transistor’s amplification capability when subjected to a static, time-independent signal input. It is expressed by the formula hFE = IC/IB, where IC is the collector current, and IB is the base current.

AC component: Also known as the dynamic current gain factor, it describes the transistor’s amplification capability when handling time-varying signals. It is expressed by the formula hFE = ΔIC/ΔIB, where ΔIC is the change in collector current, and ΔIB is the change in base current.

Power Dissipation

Power dissipation refers to the power dissipated at the collector of a transistor under normal operating conditions, usually represented by the Maximum Allowable Power Dissipation (PCM). Different ranges of PCM correspond to different power levels of transistors:

  • Low-power transistors: PCM < 1W, suitable for low-power devices such as mobile devices and sensors.
  • Medium-power transistors: 1W ≤ PCM < 5W, providing a balance between performance and power consumption, suitable for various general applications.
  • High-power transistors: PCM ≥ 5W, used in high-power devices that handle large currents and voltages, such as power amplifiers and power supplies.

The value of PCM depends on the design and manufacturing parameters of the transistor and is provided by the manufacturer. An approximate calculation method is to use the following formula:

PCM=(Tjmax−Ta)/Θja

Where:

  • Tjmax is the maximum allowable junction temperature of the transistor.
  • Ta is the ambient temperature.
  • Θja is the thermal resistance of the transistor.

Frequency Characteristics

The frequency characteristics of a transistor are directly related to the variation of parameters such as the current gain, reflecting the performance of the transistor at different frequencies. When operating outside its frequency range, a transistor may experience a decrease in amplification capability or even lose its amplification function. Two key frequency characteristic parameters are of interest: the transition frequency fT and the maximum oscillation frequency fM.

  • fT: The operating frequency at which the current gain (β) of the transistor drops to 1.
  • fM: The frequency at which the power gain of the transistor drops to 1.

A higher fT indicates better performance of the transistor in high-frequency environments. Transistors are generally categorized based on fT: low-frequency transistors (3fT ≤ 3 MHz), medium-frequency transistors (3 MHz < fT< 30 MHz), and high-frequency transistors (fT ≥ 30 MHz). In general, the fM of high-frequency transistors is lower than the cutoff frequency of the common-base configuration but higher than the cutoff frequency of the common-collector configuration, with fT higher than the cutoff frequency of the common-base configuration and lower than the cutoff frequency of the common-collector configuration.

Reverse Voltage

Transistors are classified into NPN and PNP types based on their structure. When discussing reverse voltage, our focus is on the reverse breakdown voltage of the transistor’s junctions, namely, the maximum reverse voltage between the collector-emitter or collector-base.

  • Collector: Responsible for collecting current. The collector reverse breakdown voltage refers to the maximum allowable reverse voltage between the collector and emitter when the transistor’s base is open-circuited.
  • Base: Responsible for controlling current. The base reverse breakdown voltage is the maximum allowable reverse voltage between the collector and base when the emitter is open-circuited.
  • Emitter: Responsible for emitting current. The emitter reverse breakdown voltage is the maximum allowable reverse voltage between the emitter and base when the collector is open-circuited.

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