A Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR), is essentially a Shockley diode with an extra terminal added. This extra terminal is called the gate, and it is used to trigger the device into conduction (latch it) by the application of a small voltage. To trigger, or fire, an SCR, voltage must be applied between the gate and cathode, positive to the gate and negative to the cathode. When testing an SCR, a momentary connection between the gate and anode is sufficient in polarity, intensity, and duration to trigger it. SCRs may be fired by intentional triggering of the gate terminal, excessive voltage (breakdown) between anode and cathode, or excessive rate of voltage rise between anode and cathode. SCRs may be turned off by anode current falling below the holding current value (low-current dropout), or by “reverse-firing” the gate (applying a negative voltage to the gate). Reverse-firing is only sometimes effective, and always involves high gate current. A variant of the SCR, called a Gate-Turn-Off thyristor (GTO), is specifically designed to be turned off by means of reverse triggering. Even then, reverse triggering requires fairly high current: typically 20% of the anode current. SCR terminals may be identified by a continuity meter: the only two terminals showing any continuity between them at all should be the gate and cathode. Gate and cathode terminals connect to a PN junction inside the SCR, so a continuity meter should obtain a diode-like reading between these two terminals with the red (+) lead on the gate and the black (-) lead on the cathode. Beware, though, that some large SCRs have an internal resistor connected between gate and cathode, which will affect any continuity readings taken by a meter. SCRs are true rectifiers: they only allow current through them in one direction. This means they cannot be used alone for full-wave AC power control. If the diodes in a rectifier circuit are replaced by SCRs, you have the makings of a controlled rectifier circuit, whereby DC power to a load may be time-proportioned by triggering the SCRs at different points along the AC power waveform.[1]


  1. All about circuits. "The Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR) Chapter 7 - Thyristors." accessdate 1/2/16.