What Is a Half-Wave Rectifier?

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A half-wave rectifier has a diode in it, and this diode will remove half of the signal from an alternating current. Find out how a full-wave rectifier works, in addition to a half-wave rectifier, with help from a science teacher in this free video on physical science.

Part of the Video Series: Physical & Life Science
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to explain what a half-wave rectifier is. First of all, we're looking at alternating current, alternating signals, electrical signals and here is a resistor and across that resistor if you measure the voltage it would look like this. Sometimes it's positive and sometimes it's negative. That is sometimes the current is going this way and sometimes the current is going that way. So what we have to do is if we want a half-wave rectified signal we have to remove the part of the signal which is negative. That is this, this and this and so forth. OK, it's a very simple process, a half-wave rectifier simply has in it a diode. So the diode will actually remove half of the signal. A diode is a device which allows current to flow this way but won't allow it to flow back the other way. So that is why the diode is there. So what will happen is as the current is moving forwards, we'll get the forwards part of the signal but as it tries to move backwards, we won't get any signal at all and therefore the signal will be zero. And then when it moves forward, we get the forwards part and we don't get the reverse part. And then we get the forwards part and don't get the reverse part. So this is the half-wave rectified signal. Now if we were to want a full-wave rectified signal, that is if we want this part to be here as very often we do, we need a much more complicated circuit which in fact involves four diodes we need, and we call it a four diode bridge and that is a full-wave rectifier. But for a half-wave rectifier, it is simple enough put in a diode and that will in fact half-wave rectify your circuit.


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