What is a Shockley diode?

What is a Shockley diode? The Shockley diode (named after physicist William Shockley) is a four-layer semiconductordiode, which was one of the first semiconductor devices invented. It was a “pnpn” diode. It is equivalent to a thyristor with a disconnected gate. Shockley Diodes where manufactured and marketed by Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in the late 1950s.
Shockley diode
Invented William Shockley
Pin configuration Anode and Cathode
Electronic symbol


  1.  Usages
  2. Typical Values
  3. Dynistor
  4. References


Common applications:

  • Trigger Switch for Silicon controlled rectifier
  • Relaxation oscillator / Sawtooth oscillator

niche applications:

  • Audio Amplifier

2 Typical Values

V-I diagram

Description Range  Typically
Forward Operation
Switching Voltage Vs 10V bis 250V 50V +/- 4V
Holding Voltage Vh 0.5V bis 2V 0.8V
Switching current Is a few µA to some mA 120µA
Hold current IH 1 to 50mA 14 to 45mA
Reverse Operation
Reverse Current IR 15µA
Reverse Break down voltage Vrb 10V to 250V 60V

3 Dynistor 


Small signal Shockley diodes are no longer manufactured, but the unidirectional thyristor breakover diode, also known as the dynistor, is a functionally equivalent power device. An early publication about dynistors was published in 1958.[5] In 1988 the first dynistor using Silicon carbide was made. Dynistors can be used as switches in Micro- and Nanosecond Power Pulse Generators. 

4 References 

  • Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson; Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age. New York: Norton (1997) ISBN0-393-31851-6 pbk.
  1. https://semiconductormuseum.com/PhotoGallery/PhotoGallery_Shockley4E30_Page3.htm
  2.  https://semiconductormuseum.com/PhotoGallery/PhotoGallery_Shockley4E30_Page5.htm
  3.  https://web.archive.org/web/20070221045323/https://www.elecdesign.com/Articles/ArticleID/3979/3979.html
  4. Willfried Schurig (1971) (in German), amateurreihe electronica: Kennlinien elektronischer Bauelemente. Teil II: Halbleiter Dioden, Berlin: Deutscher Militärverlag, p. 119
  5. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1155602/
  6. https://digital-library.theiet.org/content/journals/10.1049/el_19880702
  7. https://przyrbwn.icm.edu.pl/APP/PDF/115/a115z627.pdf

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