Deconstructing the Rectifier: A Historical Look at the Diode

Dan Burzek, Old Dominion University

Description/Abstract/Artist Statement

The history of electronic communications begins with wired technology, but within a few decades, advancements led to the discovery of radio waves allowing for wireless communication. The decoding of this information required a device to sense these waveforms and change them into a usable form. The earliest forms of decoding only allowed for a binary style of information, but the discovery of crystal rectifiers allowed for more complex information to be transmitted and decoded, which led to voice transmission. Although crystal rectifiers are rudimentary in nature, the study of these devices helps demonstrate the difficulties experienced by all researchers, whether in times past or in modern times.

The objective of this research is to examine the techniques of building a working crystal rectifier and to compare the outputs of this home-made diode rectifier with more modern, commercially available diodes. This study will demonstrate how rectifier functions using both a DC and an AC voltage and will compare the outputs of a commercially available diode and two different crystal rectifiers. The crystal rectifiers will consist of two types of crystals that were used in some of the first patents for these devices, a galena crystal, and a silicon crystal which will be compared to a modern p-n junction diode. These experiments will reinforce the understanding of how electronic components can be used to manipulate signals, and transform them into other useful signals and can be further expanded to utilize the rectifier in a crystal radio design.

 
Mar 20th, 1:00 PM Mar 20th, 1:55 PM

Deconstructing the Rectifier: A Historical Look at the Diode

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The history of electronic communications begins with wired technology, but within a few decades, advancements led to the discovery of radio waves allowing for wireless communication. The decoding of this information required a device to sense these waveforms and change them into a usable form. The earliest forms of decoding only allowed for a binary style of information, but the discovery of crystal rectifiers allowed for more complex information to be transmitted and decoded, which led to voice transmission. Although crystal rectifiers are rudimentary in nature, the study of these devices helps demonstrate the difficulties experienced by all researchers, whether in times past or in modern times.

The objective of this research is to examine the techniques of building a working crystal rectifier and to compare the outputs of this home-made diode rectifier with more modern, commercially available diodes. This study will demonstrate how rectifier functions using both a DC and an AC voltage and will compare the outputs of a commercially available diode and two different crystal rectifiers. The crystal rectifiers will consist of two types of crystals that were used in some of the first patents for these devices, a galena crystal, and a silicon crystal which will be compared to a modern p-n junction diode. These experiments will reinforce the understanding of how electronic components can be used to manipulate signals, and transform them into other useful signals and can be further expanded to utilize the rectifier in a crystal radio design.