Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Temperature is among the key parameters that you should consider when buying electronic components, including transistors. It has a direct impact on the performance and operation of transistors. This is why electronic components manufacturers usually indicate the maximum and minimum operating temperature of the devices. It simply means that in case the transistor is subjected to temperatures that exceed a particular range, it won’t perform perfectly as required. This applies to both ends of the spectrum, both the highest and lowest temperature ranges.
So, what are the exact effects of temperature on the transistor performance? In this article, we are going to discuss and analyze different ways in which temperature affects the performance of transistors. We will also look at how different types of transistors react to the different temperature conditions.
Other heat solutions include the use of thermal pads and even fans. With proper heat management, you can be sure of getting optimum performance from transistors.
Temperature characteristics on transistors
To understand the full impact of temperature on transistor performance, let’s look at some of the characteristics and features of transistors in relation to temperature changes. How does the transistor behave when exposed to different temperature changes? How doe the behavior affects the operation and performance of the transistor?
To answer these questions, you first have to know the flow of current in a transistor and how a change in temperature can affect the flow. The movement of current in a transistor can either be ICBO or ICEO. ICBO represents the flow of current through the collector-base junction when the transistor is connected in a reverse bias state. Here, the emitter terminal is open. On the other hand, ICEO is the flow of current between the emitter and the collector. Here, the base terminal is open.
When a transistor is exposed to high-temperature conditions, the flow of current will take the ICBO mode. A small temperature change will end up increasing the flow of electrons in a transistor by a significant margin.
Let’s say you have a transistor that has a rated ICBO of 10 microamps at 25̊C. When the temperature goes up to 35̊, the ICBO will be double the initial one. This means that the flow will hit 20 microamps. The higher the temperature, the more the number of electrons. This will go on until the transistor won’t be able to operate efficiently.
What if the temperature is lowered? The ICBO will be low only when the ambient temperatures are too low to support the excitement of electrons in a transistor. However, take note that both extremely high and extremely low ICBO can affect the performance of the transistor. For example, there will be leakage of current, high energy consumption, and as well as analog signal interference.
This is the most significant impact of heat on transistors. Exposure to high temperatures is likely to cause sporadic movement of electrons and even holes in a transistor. This means that the operation and performance of the transistor will no longer be controlled organically.
Graph showing current leak in transistor source ResearchGate
There are various ways in which current leaks can affect the performance of transistors. First, it will lead to a high consumption of power. Usually, transistors are manufactured with defined power ratings. Leakage of current is likely to cause high consumption of power. Technically, you will need more power to align the electrons that are disoriented due to heat.
Analog integrated circuits depend on transistors for the signal processing and management. Current leak due to high temperature is likely to affect the way transistors handle signals. The leak will interfere with the signals hence diminishing their integrity. Since one performance parameter of transistors is based on the integrity of their signals, it is clear that current leakage due to high temperatures lowers the performance rating of the transistors.
While high temperatures can cause current leakage in transistors, do you know that current leaks can also generate internal heat hence causing more damage? This will definitely affect the overall performance of the transistor.
Transistor thermal stability
Another key factor that you should pay attention to in relation to the temperature and performance of the transistor is the thermal stability. As the name suggests, thermal stability is the ability of a transistor to maintain optimum performance at different temperature ranges.
In most applications, manufacturers aim at achieving thermal stability as it ensures that transistors deliver the desired results over a long period. To achieve this, manufacturers are forced to embed mechanisms that will prevent the generation of high temperatures inside a device. An alternative solution is to design and manufacture transistors with high thermal stability.
Heat management in transistors
Now that you know temperature affects the performance of transistors, what should you do? One of the easiest solutions is to pay full attention to the transistor specifications that address the temperature factor. From there, you will know whether the transistor will work perfectly with your application.
Even after knowing the temperature requirements and behavior of the transistor, you should also consider deploying external solutions that are related to the temperature management of the transistors. Incorporating heat sinks in a device is one of the solutions that device manufacturers use to minimize the impact of high temperatures on the performance of the transistors.
Even though heat sinks come in different designs, their general working mechanism entails dissipating maximum heat away from the transistor. They are carefully installed in electric devices to provide a form of direct contact with the transistors for maximum heat dissipation.
From this guide, it is clear that there is a direct connection between temperature and the transistor performance. It is up to you to establish this connection an come up with the right solutions. This should start right at the point of buying the transistor. Find out its operating and storage temperatures. You can then compare the figures with where you intend to use the transistor. Other than being keen on the transistor specifications, you should also strive to buy premium quality transistors from reliable suppliers and distributors.
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