Bipolar Power Supply

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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A bipolar power supply is a device used for energy amplification and switching. It features three terminals that manipulate an electrical current. The interaction of these terminals creates what is called a transistor, which is the central component in modern electronics. A bipolar transistor works as a rapidly moving electronic switch, facilitating the size, strength, and speed of a current as it is transmitted through a device.

Electricity is transmitted by either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). Each of these standards have their own advantages and drawbacks, depending on the situation, but, left on their own, they are incompatible. When a device requires the use of AC current at one step and DC at another, a transistor, such as a bipolar power supply, is capable of receiving the input from one current, changing it into another type of current, and then back again, if need be.

The Source-Sink Feature of a Bipolar Power Supply

The average bipolar power supply unit is able to act as a source-sink device. This means that it is capable of dual power instrument functions. As a source, a bipolar power supply is capable of delivering energy to a passive load. As a sink, it can then absorb and dissipate the energy from an active load. This is made possible by a dissipative power control element.

The dissipative power control element, however, does create a few concerns. Because of the energy created by source-sink power, significant attention must be paid to cooling bipolar power supplies. Output transistors act as the energy absorbing element in these instruments, and generally absorb up to 400 W. Beyond this, measures must be taken to prevent an overload.


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