A "snubber diode," also known as a "freewheeling diode" or "flyback diode," is a crucial component used in power electronics circuits, particularly in applications where inductive loads are present, such as motors, solenoids, transformers, and relays. Its primary purpose is to protect other components and ensure proper operation of the circuit.
When an inductive load, like a motor or relay, is energized, it stores energy in its magnetic field. When the power to the load is suddenly turned off, this stored energy seeks a path to discharge. Without a snubber diode, the sudden drop in current can cause a voltage spike, known as a "back EMF" (Electromagnetic Field), across the inductive load. This back EMF can reach dangerous levels and potentially damage other components in the circuit, like transistors or switches.
The snubber diode provides an alternate path for the inductive current to flow when the power is turned off. It acts as a "short circuit" for the back EMF, allowing the inductive load's energy to dissipate safely and gradually through the diode, rather than causing a harmful voltage spike.
The snubber diode is typically connected in parallel with the inductive load, with its cathode (negative terminal) connected to the positive supply voltage and its anode (positive terminal) connected to the load side. When the power is turned off, the diode becomes forward-biased, allowing the inductive current to circulate through the diode and dissipate the stored energy without causing damage to the rest of the circuit.
In summary, the purpose of a snubber diode is to protect power electronics circuits from voltage spikes caused by inductive loads when power is turned off, ensuring safe and reliable operation of the system.