A voltage multiplier circuit is an electronic circuit that generates a higher DC voltage from a lower AC or DC input voltage. It is based on the principle of charge accumulation and uses diodes and capacitors to achieve voltage multiplication. The basic voltage multiplier circuit is known as the "Cockcroft-Walton voltage multiplier," which consists of multiple stages, each comprising a diode-capacitor combination.
Here's how the voltage multiplier circuit operates:
Diode Rectification: The input voltage is usually an AC voltage, but it can also be a DC voltage. The first stage of the voltage multiplier circuit is a diode bridge rectifier. This bridge rectifier, usually made up of four diodes arranged in a specific configuration (such as a full-wave bridge), converts the AC input voltage to a pulsating DC voltage.
Charge Accumulation: The rectified voltage is then fed into a series of capacitors connected in a ladder-like configuration. Each stage consists of a diode and a capacitor in a specific arrangement. The diodes serve as one-way valves that allow the charging of the capacitors only during specific parts of the input waveform.
Capacitor Charging: During the positive half-cycle of the input waveform, the diodes in each stage conduct, allowing the corresponding capacitor to charge up to the peak value of the input voltage. During the negative half-cycle of the input waveform, the diodes block any discharge paths for the capacitors.
Voltage Addition: As the input voltage alternates between positive and negative cycles, the capacitors in each stage accumulate charge, thereby increasing their voltage levels. The capacitors in the subsequent stages are charged to the peak voltage of the previous stage multiplied by the number of stages. Thus, the voltage across each stage adds up, leading to a voltage multiplication effect.
Ripple Filtering (Optional): In practice, the output of the voltage multiplier circuit can have some ripple due to the charging and discharging of capacitors. To reduce this ripple and achieve a more stable output, additional smoothing capacitors or filtering circuits may be included.
It's essential to note that voltage multiplier circuits are susceptible to losses and voltage drops across diodes and capacitors, limiting their efficiency. The number of stages in the multiplier determines the voltage multiplication factor. However, increasing the number of stages also increases the complexity of the circuit and the chances of losses. As a result, the practical application of voltage multipliers is often limited to specific scenarios where high-voltage, low-current outputs are required, such as in CRT (cathode ray tube) displays, some electronic instruments, and voltage multipliers for particle accelerators.