Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...
, a diode is a type of two-terminal
A terminal is the point at which a conductor from an electrical component, device or network comes to an end and provides a point of connection to external circuits. A terminal may simply be the end of a wire or it may be fitted with a connector or fastener...
An electronic component is a basic electronic element and may be available in a discrete form having two or more electrical terminals . These are intended to be connected together, usually by soldering to a printed circuit board, in order to create an electronic circuit with a particular function...
with a nonlinear current–voltage characteristic. A semiconductor diode, the most common type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...
material connected to two electrical terminals. A vacuum tube diode (now rarely used except in some high-power technologies) is a vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...
with two electrode
An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit...
s: a plate
A plate is a type of electrode that formed part of a vacuum tube. The plate is impressed with a positive charge so that it may capture and flow electrons within a circuit....
and a cathode
A cathode is an electrode through which electric current flows out of a polarized electrical device. Mnemonic: CCD .Cathode polarity is not always negative...
The most common function of a diode is to allow an electric current to pass in one direction (called the diode's forward direction), while blocking current in the opposite direction (the reverse direction).